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Morning Light Jewelry
Sam & Tami Serio
28039 Cherryhill Ct.
Suite 51
Hallwood, VA 23359

Phone: (757) 824-3868
(10am-5pm EST)

Fax: (757) 824-4516

samserio@esva.net

Discover a Secret World
of Beautiful Jewelry and Gemstones!

Sterling Silver Jewelry Today
Sterling Silver Jewelry: The Rest of the Story
Sterling Silver Fashion Trends for the New Year and Beyond
Sterling Silver Jewelry – Classic Simplicity
Murano Hand-Blown Glass Jewelry
Celtic Jewelry – A Beautiful Mystery Unravelled
Celtic Jewelry: Ancient Symbolism in Popular Fashion
Amber Jewelry Secrets
Gemstone Secrets Revealed
Precious Stones Explained
Precious Stones vs. Semi-Precious Stones
Precious Stones – The Big Five
  Part 1 – The Emerald

Precious Stones – The Big Five
  Part 2 – The Ruby

Precious Stones – The Big Five
  Part 3 – The Sapphire

Precious Stones – The Big Five
  Part 4 – The Diamond

Precious Stones – The Big Five
  Part 5 – The Pearl

The Pearl Necklace – A Timeless Beauty
Opal Jewelry – Your Own Personal Piece of Rainbow
Gemstone Color and Mystical Symbolism
Gem and Crystal Jewelry – The Power to Heal?
Birthstone Origins – Stranger than Fiction
Birthstone Jewelry Beliefs and Celebrity Birthdays
  Garnet Is January's Birthstone
Amethyst Is February's Birthstone
Aquamarine Is March's Birthstone
Diamond Is April's Birthstone
Emerald Is May's Birthstone
Pearl Is June's Birthstone
Ruby Is July's Birthstone
Peridot Is August's Birthstone
Sapphire is September's Birthstone
Opal is October's Birthstone
Citrine is November's Birthstone
Turquoise is December's Birthstone
The Truth About Gold Jewelry
Turquoise Necklace Facts and Beliefs
Gold Jewelry: The Rest of the Story
Buying Platinum Jewelry Without Being Ripped Off
Care and Cleaning of your Sterling Silver Jewelry
Jewelry and Gemstone Care & Cleaning Tips
Body Jewelry and Today's Stars
Fashionable Silver Earrings for Anytime and All the Time
Diamond Hoop Earrings: The Diva's Choice
Diamond Stud Earrings: Elegant Unisexuality
Diamond Earrings: Superiority and Endurance
Gemstone Earring: One Small Way to Express Your Individuality
Bridal Jewelry: Fulfilling a Wedding Tradition
Vintage Costume Jewelry: Yesterday's Fashion Today
Jewelry Making for Fun and Profit
Lance Armstrong Bracelets: Fashion Accessories for a Worthy Cause

Sterling Silver & Blue Topaz,
Citrine, Peridot, Amethyst & CZ
Ring & Earring Set

Sterling Silver Jewelry Today

Sterling silver jewelry: silver and gemstone rings, sterling silver earrings, bracelets and pendants are some of the hottest fashion accessories today! Sterling silver jewelry is enjoying an unprecedented popularity with today's fashion conscious public. You know how beautifully sterling silver jewelry compliments fashionable clothing and how it sparkles and shines; now here is the rest of the story.

Silver has been used since ancient times, but has not survived as well as ancient gold because it tarnished and decomposes. There have been times, however, when silver was "in"; we are going through such a vogue today.

Silver is the most common of the precious metals. Fine silver is pure silver, which is seldom used for jewelry because it is too soft. Sterling silver is 925 parts silver to 75 of copper, the alloy most often used. Silver weighs about half as much as gold, has greater flexibility, but is not as malleable, it has always been less expensive as well. A comparable piece of gold jewelry might cost four or five times that of a piece of sterling silver jewelry.

The current fashion trend toward black clothing has made silver jewelry more popular than ever. Silver likes to be worn; it stays cleaner & shinier through movement and friction. So sterling silver is a perfect accessory for today's fast paced lifestyles. Much like gold, sterling silver needs to be cleaned.

We hope you have enjoyed this special report. Please feel free to share it with your friends!

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Sterling Silver Jewelry: The Rest of the Story

Silver is widely diffused but is rarely found in the native state.

Silver is originally as widespread as gold, occurring in nearly all of the volcanic rocks. Whereas gold remains unaltered by the action of the elements and is often carried long distances from its original place of occurrence, silver on the contrary is only to be found in the rocks where it originally occurs. When these rocks are broken down or worn away, the silver is either driven into new mineral combinations, or more often dissipated and lost. Silver, therefore, is only to be obtained by subterranean mining. Shafts are driven and the ore brought to the surface, and by use of various processes the silver is extracted, refined and made ready for commercial purposes.

Sterling Silver Butterfly Pendant & Earrings Set W/ Citrine, Peridot & Blue Topaz

Sterling Silver Butterfly Pendant & Earrings Set
W/ Citrine, Peridot & Blue Topaz

An old process and one still employed extensively throughout Mexico where a large quantity of silver is produced, is to take the ore after it has been crushed or reduced to a fine mud or puddle and spread it about two feet deep over the floor of a large courtyard. Powered sulfate of copper is spread over the mass and then horses or mules are driven around in circle to tread the sulfate in and mix it thoroughly with the ore. After about one day’s treading a quantity of common salt is added and after two days more treading quicksilver is added. This mass is trodden over for a period of about fifteen days, and is then shoveled into a large tank through which a rapid stream of water is passed. This washes away all but the silver and quicksilver, which is then poured into cone-shaped canvas bags. Most of the quicksilver runs out leaving the silver, which is then retorted. The quicksilver is used over and over again to assist in recovering the silver.

Pure silver has a beautiful white color and luster; it is almost as plastic as pure gold and like it very soft. Silver does not tarnish in natural air, but when it comes in contact with sulfur compounds it readily forms black silver sulfide. The sulfur compounds which act on silver are found in small quantities in the air as a result of burning coal and illuminating gas, while larger amounts occur in vulcanized rubber, wool, and foods like eggs.

Pure silver is too soft to make durable objects that require lightness and stability of form. This defect is overcome by alloying it with a little copper.

An alloy of 925 parts fine silver and 75 parts copper is called 925-1000 fine or what is commonly known as sterling silver. This alloy is used almost universally for jewelry and the best silverware.

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Sterling Silver Fashion Trends for the New Year and Beyond

Each year, on fashion runways from New York to Paris, Milan, and Toyko, sterling silver is "new again" as designers interpret it in new and exciting ways. What makes sterling silver a fashion perennial? The answer is clear: when it comes to beauty, versatility, durability, and affordability, sterling silver jewelry is unsurpassed.

In the hands of talented artists and designers, sterling silver is constantly "reinvented" to suit the evolving tastes of the women who wear it. But whether as a ring, a necklace, or bracelet, standing alone or presented in combination with gemstones and other precious metals…sterling silver is always in fashion.

Here's a look at what's "hot" this year:

Peace of Silver

In 2004, many Oscar presenters and recipients wore gracefully and simply designed "Dove of Peace." pin. Embraced by such Hollywood luminaries as Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Drew Barrymore, and Leonardo DiCaprio, it has also been seen on the Dali Lama and Nobel Peace Laureates Oscar Aria Sanchez, Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, and former UN Assistant Secretary-General Gillian Sorrensom.

Now non-celebrities may purchase the pin in sterling silver pin to demonstrate both their commitment to peace and their fashion sense. The 2005 sterling silver interpretation was designed by award-winning American jewelry artist Henry Dunay to resonate the energy of Picasso's "Dove Of Peace."

Silver Screen

With the enormous popularity of the "Lord of the Rings" series, it comes as no surprise that designers have created jewelry based on the elaborately crafted pieces in the films. Based on the actual pendant worn in the Lord of the Rings film, the Arwen Evenstar Pendant is crafted in sterling silver and comes in a wooden gift box. Measuring 2½ inches in length with a 18" sterling silver chain and a Swarovski crystal stone, each piece is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, adding long-term value to its other charms.

Works Like A Charm

Charm bracelets are both wonderfully retro and extremely cutting edge. Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Avril Levigne, Hilary Duff, and other high-visibility high-fashion celebrities are wrapping their wrists in silver bracelets with the hip L.A. brand "Eldorado Club."

The "Girlie Charm Bracelet" is adorned with charming femme-friendly charms including a cat, a cocktail glass, and a kitty.

Sterling Silver – Always In Style for Your 25th Anniversary No matter what list you consult – traditional, modern or the now popular "ultra-modern" (which includes items like clocks and appliances) – silver is the 21st Century gift of choice for a 25th wedding anniversary. Whether it's silver's durability, its strength, its flexibility or its unparalleled beauty, sterling silver is an exquisite memento of 25 years of loving commitment between a couple.

Topping the list of this year's "What's Hot" in silver wedding anniversary gifts, women say they want charm bracelets, hoop earrings, and hair ornaments. For wives who would like to present their husbands with sterling silver tokens, the "top of the charts" picks are cufflinks, tie clips, money clips, neck chains, and I.D. bracelets.

But #1 for him AND her – a classic sterling silver Tiffany keyring.

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Sterling Silver Jewelry – Classic Simplicity

Sterling silver jewelry is synonymous with class and style in the world of fashion. Its versatility and flexibility make it a welcome and useful addition to any person’s wardrobe. Sterling silver jewelry epitomizes classic simplicity in itself, but as the setting for gemstones or combined with other precious metals, the aesthetic value it lends to the wearer is inestimable.

Pure silver by itself is too soft and would not be practical for jewelry and other ornamental objects. Sterling silver is made when another metal, such as copper, is added to the silver to make it hardy and tough. So while it is not as sturdy as stainless steel, sterling silver jewelry is nonetheless very durable and long-lasting. That is why a wide array of rings, necklaces, bracelets, cuff links, belt buckles, body jewelry and more are made from sterling silver.

All sterling silver jewelry is marked as such, and sometimes the name of the designer or manufacturer is engraved on the piece. It is a highly reflective precious metal whose simple yet elegant look is appreciated by both the young and old, the famous and not-so-famous. Some celebrities adorned with sterling silver jewelry on television or in magazines include actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Kristin Davis, musician Sheryl Crow, and hotel heiress and budding thespian Paris Hilton.

Certain maintenance measures need to be taken to care for sterling silver jewelry. To prevent unsightly tarnishing, it should be washed with water and a mild detergent after it is worn, and since it is softer than some other precious metals, abrasion and shock to the piece should be prevented to avoid scratching or marring its surface. In the event that tarnishing does occur, sterling silver jewelry can be polished to restore it to its former sheen.

Whether your dress of choice be casual jeans, practical office attire or a slinky, little black dress for a night out on the town, sterling silver jewelry is the perfect accessory. It adapts easily to all fashion trends without sacrificing the wearer’s personal sense of style. Its allure remains undiminished as it continues to evoke the idea of simple luxury.

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Murano Hand-Blown Glass Jewelry

Murano Glass Jewelry

Murano Glass Pendants

Finally beautiful jewelry that allows you to express your own personal uniqueness. No two pieces of Murano Millefiori are ever exactly the same. The proud wearer exhibits a jewelry expression unlike any other piece in the entire world.

The Venetian Murrina originates from ancient Roman, Alexandrian, and Phoenician glassware. Small segments of differently shaped and colored glass rods, the famous "Millefiori" which means "a thousand flowers", are laid close together and then fused into tiny mosaics, each of them being absolutely unique.

Murano Glass owes its particular beauty to a very complicated and skilful process which was rediscovered by the glass makers of Murano in the Middle Ages. Each piece is a one-of-a-kind work of art, entirely handmade in the most famous city in the world for glassmaking: Venice.

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Celtic Jewelry – A Beautiful Mystery Unravelled

Celtic jewelry like the Celts themselves has a rich history and a proud tradition. Immensely beautiful with intricate Celtic symbols and delicate designs, Celtic cross jewelry, Celtic knot jewelry, and beautiful Claddaugh rings have been admired and desired for thousands of years.

Celtic Cross Jewelry

One of the most enduring, and coveted "gifts" of Celtic culture is jewelry featuring the Celtic Cross. According to Irish legend, St. Patrick created the first Celtic cross by drawing a circle over a Latin cross.

For an Irish Catholic, the circle in the Celtic cross may be a symbol of eternity and the endlessness of God's love. It can even represent a halo emanating from Christ.

Some say the four "arms" of the Celtic Cross represent the elements (fire, earth, air, and water). Others believe the cross denotes the four directions of the compass, and still others feel it is a representation of human existence – mind, body, soul and heart.

Celtic Knots

The most distinguishing characteristic of Celtic knots is their intricate patterns and design…and the debate as to the meaning of those designs. While it is unquestionable that many of the ancient designs had some significance, those meanings changed from tribe to tribe and location to location.

Many believe that the intricate looping in knots was a way to keep out evil spirits. It is also generally accepted that the looping Celtic knot design denotes eternity and interconnectedness. Still, there is no definitive guide as to the meaning of Celtic knots which, adds, perhaps to their mystery and appeal.

Claddagh Rings

Named for the town of Claddagh near Galway in which they are said to have originated, Claddagh rings are beloved Celtic symbols of Irish culture and sentiment. Unlike other Celtic symbols, the meaning behind the Claddagh ring is well-documented. The Claddagh design has a heart (symbolizing love) topped by a crown (symbolizing loyalty) held in two hands (signifying friendship). The phrase that is usually associated with the giving of a Claddagh ring is "Let love and friendship reign."

It's not surprise that the Claddagh is a popular marriage band. In Celtic times, it was worn on the right hand with the heart turned outward to show that the wearer is unattached or with the heart turned inward to show he/she was "spoken for." If the Claddagh ring is worn on the left hand with the heart turned inward, it shows that two loves have been joined in marriage.

Celtic Then and Now

At one time, Celtic people could be found throughout Eastern and Central Europe, as well as in the British Isles, where the earliest examples of Celtic jewelry originate. The emergence of the powerful Roman Empire encroached on the lifestyle, traditions, and homeland of the Celts who were forced to move to abandon their homes and relocate in remote areas in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Cornwall in southern England.

Despite their hardships at the hands of the Romans, Celts endured, thrived…and continued to produce Celtic jewelry. The tradition has remained strong for centuries. Irish Celtic jewelry and Scottish Celtic jewelry have enjoyed a huge resurgence in their homelands and with "ex-pats" around the world, as people seek to rediscover and celebrate their cultural traditions.

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Celtic Jewelry: Ancient Symbolism in Popular Fashion

The mysterious and the mystical have always had the power to hold human beings in thrall throughout the millennia. Celtic jewelry is no exception to this, since they are an extension and a reminder of the traditions and rituals of the Celts, an ancient European people. Today, men and women of all ages wear Celtic jewelry not only for their beauty, but also for their symbolism and metaphysical connotations.

Also popularly -- though inaccurately -- known as Claddagh jewelry, Celtic designs are appreciated for their intricacy and beauty. Numerous patterns of Celtic origin, such as the spiral and the cross, are used by jewelers in their creations. The Celtic spiral symbolizes eternity and is used abundantly in many Celtic jewelry items today. Just as popular is the Celtic cross, which pre-dates the Christian cross by about two centuries. The Celtic cross is thought to bring greater knowledge, understanding and the fortitude to deal with trials and adversities, as compared to the Christian cross, which is believed to protect the wearer from harm.

Claddagh rings and bracelets are two more examples of popular Celtic jewelry items that are replete with symbolism. Rings that have the Celtic knot design symbolize eternal and undying love; this is why they are exchanged by the bride and groom in present day wedding ceremonies – to signify their fidelity and never-ending commitment to each other. Such rings and bracelets are also given to friends as an indication of loyalty.

Necklaces and pendants are likewise integral parts of a Celtic jewelry collection. Depending on the wearer’s preferences, the pendant may depict the image of Celtic figures such as the ever-popular knot, spiral, Celtic cross, serpent or dragon. Such symbols have deep spiritual and religious meaning, and it is one of the main reasons why Celtic jewelry items are popular dress accessories today.

A person does not have to be Irish or Scottish or to have any other Celtic connection in order to appreciate Celtic jewelry. Whether given as gifts or maintained as personal keepsakes, these unique pieces can be enjoyed just for their beauty alone. But a little awareness of their meaning, as well as their place in history and tradition add to their air of enigma and allure.

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Amber Jewelry Secrets

Amber, the gem of a stone that's not really a gemstone at all, is actually fossilized pine sap. People have collected, traded, carved, and coveted amber for more than 10,000 years. Yet despite our fascination with it, much about the smoky yellow stone – the history of amber – remains a mystery.

The price for amber stones varies widely, in the right price range for Average Joe's (and Joannas) who can spend as little as $20 for amber and silver jewelry, and also for high-rollers ready to spend $40,000 or more for a "slice of sunshine" in amber jewelry crafted in gold, platinum, and featuring other gemstones. And although it not an official "birthstone – a designation reserved for actual gemstones – amber is often presented to those born under the sign of Taurus (April 19-May 19).

History of Amber

Amber is found in Myanmar home to the largest piece of transparent amber in the world (33.5 pounds and 40-50 million years old), as well as Lebanon, Sicily, Mexico, Romania, Germany, and Canad. The two main sources of amber on the market today, however, are the Dominican Republic and the Baltic states.

Once highly regulated, Baltic amber has become more widely available due to more liberal economic policies in Eastern Europe. Today, the whole world enjoys amber minded from the Baltic region, where the largest mine is in Russia, west of Kaliningrad.

Baltic amber may also be found in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Russia. Baltic amber has even washed up on the shores of the Baltic Sea in Denmark, Norway, and England. Baltic amber is the oldest geological specimen to be used in jewelry. Archeologists digging near the Baltic Sea have found evidence of Baltic amber jewelry that is approximately 40,000 years old.

Green Amber is a completely natural variation of Baltic Amber. The green color is a result of plant interaction with the resin. While green is a more valuable color of amber than brown, the best quality of amber remains clear, transparent, and flawless.

Slightly softer than Baltic amber, Dominican amber is prized for its coloration, including yellow and deep red, as well as the distinctive (and rare) blue and smoky green hues that come exclusively from that area.

Shocking Information about Amber

The ancient name for amber was "electron," the root word of electricity. Around 600 B.C., it was discovered that if an amber stone was rubbed vigorously, it became electrically charged. Believed to carry a negative electrical energy charge, amber was used to draw power and energy into its bearer.

In addition to its ability to attract energy and power, amber was believed to aid the intellect. It was prescribed for memory loss; eccentric behavior; anxiety, and indecisiveness.

The Joy of Amber

Amber jewelry is said to help one be joyful and happy. The cheery yellow stone is believed to lighten the burdens of life.

Healers say that amber activates our altruistic nature and helps us realize the full power of our spiritual intellect.

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Gemstone Secrets Revealed

The mystery and magic of colored gemstones has been an integral aspect or the "Lore" of most cultures for many centuries. Here is what noted gemstone experts Antoinette L. Matlins and A.C. Bonanno have to say on the matter.

"The fascination with colored gemstones dates back to the very beginning of civilization. For our ancestors, the blue of sapphire produced visions of the heavens; the red of ruby was a reminder of the very essence of life. By Roman times, rings containing colored gems were prized symbols of power – and the most powerful wore rings on every joint of every finger!

Since ancient times, colored stones have been thought to possess innate magical powers and the ability to endow the wearer with certain attributes. According to legend, emeralds are good for the eyes; yellow stones cure jaundice; red stones stop the flow of blood. At one time it was believed that a ruby worn by a man indicated command, nobility, lordship, and vengeance; worn by a woman, however, it indicated pride, obstinacy, haughtiness. A blue sapphire worn by a man indicated wisdom, and high and magnanimous thoughts; on a woman, jealousy in love, politeness, and vigilance. The emerald signified for a man joyousness, transitory hope, and the decline of friendship; for woman, unfounded ambition, childish delight, and change.

Colored gems, because of the magical powers associated with them, achieved extensive use as talismans and amulets; as predictors of the future; as therapeutic aids; and as essential elements to many religious practices-pagan, Hebrew, and Christian."

Gemstones 101

Natural gemstones are found in nature. Laboratory-created stones, as the name implies, are made in the laboratory. These stones, which also are referred to as laboratory-grown, {name of manufacturer} – created, or synthetic, have essentially the same chemical, physical and visual properties as natural gemstones. Laboratory-created stones do not have the rarity of naturally colored stones and they are less expensive than naturally mined stones. By contrast, imitation stones look like natural stones in appearance only, and may be glass, plastic, or less costly stones. Laboratory-created and imitation stones should be clearly identified as such.

Gemstones may be measured by weight, size, or both. The basic unit for weighing gemstones is the carat, which is equal to one-fifth 91/5th) of a gram. Carats are divided into 100 units called points. For example, a half-carat gemstone would weigh .50 carats or 50 points. When gemstones are measured by dimensions, the size is expressed in millimeters (for example, 7x5 millimeters).

Gemstone treatments or enhancements refer to the way some gems are treated to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color. Many gemstones are treated in some way. The effects of some treatments may lessen or change over time and some treated stones may require special care. Some enhancements also affect the value of a stone, when measured against a comparable untreated stone.

Jewelers should tell you whether the gemstone you’re considering has been treated when: the treatment is not permanent; the treated stone requires special care; or the treatment significantly affects the value of the gemstone.

Some common treatments that you may be told about and their effects include:

  • Heating can lighten, darken or change the color of some gems, or improve a gemstone’s clarity.
  • Irradiation can add more color to colored diamonds, certain other gemstones and pearls.
  • Impregnating some gems with colorless oils, wax or resins makes a variety of imperfections less visible and can improve the gemstones' clarity and appearance.
  • Fracture filling hides cracks or fractures in gems by injecting colorless plastic or glass into the cracks and improves the gemstones' appearance and durability.
  • Diffusion treatment adds color to the surface of colorless gems; the center of the stone remains colorless.
  • Dyeing adds color and improves color uniformity in some gemstones and pearls.
  • Bleaching lightens and whitens dome gems, Including jade and pearls.

In this day and age, gemstones are generally worn for their natural beauty or as a fashion statement, but there are many that "buy-in" to the mythical and mystical symbolisms of gems as well. Whatever a persons reason, the world of gems today offers an almost endless choice. Many new gems have been discovered and are widely available in reds, blues, greens and many unusual shades as well. Enjoy!

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Precious Stones Explained

The mineral to which the term "precious stone" is applied, must be adaptable for jewelry or ornamental purposes and must possess beauty, hardness, and rarity.

The beauty of a precious stone or gem consists of its color or colorlessness, brilliancy or softness of luster, and transparency. To take a high and lasting polish, a mineral must be hard – and many stones that would otherwise be highly valued are low in the estimate of worth because they do not possess of sufficient hardness to make them endure the wear and friction to which a precious stone is subjected when used in the form of jewelry. The rareness of precious stones has a decided effect in determining their values. For instance, the crocidolite, commercially known as tiger-eye, was sold by the carat some years ago, and was largely used in the making of fine jewelry. Today, this material is so plentiful that it is no longer classed among the higher gems, but serves for cameos and intaglios like chalcedony and onyx.

The changes of fashion have much to do with determining the market value of precious stones. Amethysts, topazes, cat's-eyes, aquamarines, alexandrites, and even emeralds and opals have been eagerly sought for at times and then again neglected for other gems, causing a sensible difference in the value of these stones.

It has been a mooted question as to the proper dividing line between stones that deserve the title “precious,” and those, which should be placed in a so-called semi-precious or lower category. To draw such a line is hardly possible, as neither hardness, rareness, nor value would be a positive test – some of the hard stones, like zircon and almandines being less valuable than softer opal, while the diamond, one of the most plentiful of precious stones, is at the same time, one of the most valuable.

Neither can price be taken as a complete test, because fashion makes a turquoise, an opal, or an emerald much more valuable at one time than at another, All precious minerals used for ornamental purposes, from the diamond to quartz, or chalcedony, may properly be termed precious stones.

The Final Word On Precious Stones

The most precious stones are the diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The pearl is oftentimes classed with precious stones. Although strictly speaking while it is not a stone it holds an esteemed place in jewelry.

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Precious Stones vs. Semi-Precious Stones

Stones have been worn by both women and men since prehistoric times. Just as in the jewelry of modern times, beautiful stones, rare and colorful, are most often the dominant feature of a piece with a metallic setting for ornamentation.

The stones used in the crafting of fine jewelry are generally divided into two classes- precious stones and semi-precious stones.

These terms are used heavily in the commercial world of jewelry when considering variety and value. While artistic merits are only a matter of opinion, the value of a stone is what it will bring in the marketplace. It should also be mentioned that many people, collectors and general consumers alike, prefer the rare to the beautiful.

These stones are simply rocks (minerals) taken from the earth, and after they have been enhanced by the artisans cutting and polishing, the finest and rarest of them are what we call gems.

Precious Stones

The most precious stones are the diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. The pearl is oftentimes classed with precious stones. Although strictly speaking while it is not a stone it holds an esteemed place in jewelry.

Semi-Precious Stones

A large number of stones used in jewelry are known as semi-precious; the most important ones are as follow: amethyst, lapis-lazuli, turquoise, aquamarine, topaz, moonstone, peridot, opal, tourmaline, zircon, chrysoberyl, alexandrite. Others of less importance although much used are: chrysoprase, jade, garnet, agate, azurite, malachite, bloodstone, coral, carnelian and many others. These stones while comparatively common and inexpensive are indispensable to the worker in jewelry. The variety of colors to be had in these stones make it possible to produce unusual designs of artistic merit and to adapt them to the personality and costume of the wearer. For more detailed information regarding gem stones the reader is referred to “Gem Stones” by G.F. Herbert Smith, also “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones,” by George Frederick Kunz.

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Precious Stones – The Big Five
Part 1 – The Emerald

The emerald is probably the most rare of all precious stones and is considered by some to be even more valuable than the diamond.

Sterling Silver & Emerald w/ Diamond Accent Ring

Sterling Silver & Emerald
w/ Diamond Accent Ring

Compared with other precious stones the emerald in its occurrence in nature is unique, for it is found in the rock in which it was formed. Unlike diamonds, sapphires and rubies, it never occurs in gem gravels. The earliest known locality where emeralds were found was in Upper Egypt near the coast of the Red Sea. The best stones, however, are found in Columbia, South America. Fine specimens have also been found in the United States in North Carolina.

While the usual shade of color seen in emeralds is alluded to as emerald green, there are other shades, such as grass green, sea green and green slightly tinged with yellow. The shades most highly valued are those of an intense fresh green sometimes compared with that seen in a meadow in spring.

Beryl is a mineral known to gem lovers under several different names, the most valued of which is the Emerald. The mineral beryl composing the various gems is practically the same in composition, hardness, and other properties, and the gems may be differentiated only by their color. In composition beryl is a silicate of aluminum and glucinum. On the scale of hardness beryl is graded 7 ½ to 8, and is thus much softer than the diamond, ruby, or sapphire. It is owing to this fact that the emerald scratches easily and that care must be taken that when worn it is not subject to chafing by diamonds or other harder gems.

Beryl as a mineral is of quite common occurrence, and the crystals of the mineral in its cruder form often grow to enormous size. There is one such single crystal preserved in the Boston Museum of Natural History, which is three and one half feet long and three feet wide and weighs several tons.

Beryl in this common form occurs in many localities, but the mineral in its rarer form of emerald is comparatively of very rare occurrence. The emerald or green beryl, as it should be scientifically known, has long been the most highly prized of the green gems. In brilliancy it exceeds all other green gems excepting only the very rare green sapphire. The most valuable specimens exhibit a vivid grass-green shade, and it is to this color that they owe their great value. Other considerations, such as freedom from imperfections, are quite secondary in determining the value of the stone. In fact a perfect emerald is almost never found, and this circumstance has passed into an Eastern simile which runs, “As scarce as a perfect emerald,” this being a symbol for the acme of rarity. The emerald is light in weight and an emerald of a given size will be about a third larger than a diamond and forty-five per cent larger than a sapphire of equal weight. The distinctive color of the emerald is probably due to a trace of chromium in its composition.

Fine emeralds are generally cut cushion shape with step cutting, and in the East are often cut cabochon. Fine emeralds have advanced very rapidly during the last few years, both on account of the growing demand of fashion for the gems and the scarcity of really fine specimens.

Many curious legends of gigantic emeralds have been handed down to us, principally culled from the narratives of early travelers, who thought every transparent green stone they saw to be an emerald.

The ancients valued the emerald highly, not alone for its beauty, but for its supposed occult properties and its marvelous power of healing all diseases of the eye—they also believed that if the eyes of a serpent met the gleam of the emerald, it immediately became blind. Moore alludes to this superstition in the lines:

Blinded like serpents when they gaze
Upon the emerald’s virgin blaze.

The Emperor Nero, who was shortsighted, had an eye-glass formed of an emerald, through which he gazed and gloated over the cruel sports of the arena.

Many interesting stories are told of the first emeralds taken by the early conquerors of Peru to Spain, and a certain Joseph D’ Acosta is said to have returned to Spain in 1587 with two chests of emeralds, each of which weighed over one hundred pounds. The truth of this story may be questioned, but it is a fact that the stones were highly prized and much used by the Incas and Aztecs in the extraordinary civilization which once existed in Peru. The emerald was highly prized by the ancients and by gem lovers of the middle ages, and this accounts for many interesting legends and superstitions relating to the gem.

As for today, the emerald is still very highly valued as one of the most precious stones. The emerald is May’s birthstone and is a favorite stone for fine jewelry craftsmen throughout the world.

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Precious Stones – The Big Five
Part 2 – The Ruby

What fairy tales of enchanted princesses and legendary lore of the Arabian Nights does not the mere mention of the ruby conjure up to our imagination! No stone has been more intimately connected with poetry and romance, and few gems can compare either in beauty or value with a perfect ruby. When Solomon exclaimed that “a virtuous woman was more valuable than rubies,” and Job, that “the price of wisdom is above rubies,” they both mentioned what to them was the most valuable thing in existence. And its value and rarity have not decreased since their time. Today a perfect ruby of five carats will fetch at least five times the value of a diamond of the same size and quality, while rubies without flaw or blemish, and of the true pigeon-blood variety, weighing as much as ten carats, are so rare and valuable that ten times the value of a perfect diamond would be considered a very low price to pay for so perfect a gem.

The ruby is the oldest or first known of all precious stones, dating far back in the early history of Chaldea and Babylonia. The finest specimens, as well as the largest quantities, are found in Upper Burma, and at the present time over one-half of the world’s supply comes from this locality. The rubies found in Ceylon, Siam and Australia have not the deep rich color of the Burmese ruby which is a shade of red slightly inclined to the purple and is often called “Pigeon Blood Ruby.” The value of rubies depends upon their color and transparency.

The red sapphire or ruby is the most valuable of the corundum family, and when found of a good color, pure and brilliant, and in sizes of one carat and larger, it is much more valuable than a fine diamond of the same size.

Rubies and Sapphires are scientifically the same stone, differing only in color. Corundum, the predominating mineral of both, is composed of nearly pure alumina. The coloring substance, which differentiates rubies and sapphires, is believed to be chromium. In the scale of hardness the gem ranks as No. 9 and is thus the hardest of all substances excepting the diamond. Color is the most important factor in determining the value of the ruby. The gem is always more or less imperfect, but its freedom from bad imperfections is also important. Since fine rubies of all sizes are extremely rare, the price increases very rapidly with an increase in size, and a fine ruby of more than four carats commands an extraordinary price and can be said to be the most valuable of all gems, exceeding greatly a diamond of equal weight. The color of the ruby varies from the lightest rose tint to the deepest carmine, but the rarest and most valuable shade is known as Pigeon Blood. This is the color of arterial blood. The ruby has always been greatly admired, and many say that the ruby in the British Crown is the most beautiful gem they have ever seen.

The ruby is found in limestone deposits on side hills, but the largest quantity is found in alluvial deposits of gravel and clay in riverbeds. These deposits are about fifteen to twenty feet below the surface and from a few inches to five feet in thickness. This material called “byon” is mined or removed and put through a washing process by which the rubies are recovered.

The genuine ruby is gotten from the mineral known as corundum. Emery, so much used, is an impure form of corundum. The superbly blood-red color of the perfect ruby is produced by the very tiny portions of impurity in the substance after they have been crystallized by Nature’s wonderful processes. All genuine—that is natural stones, contain certain tiny flaws and blemishes and characteristic peculiarities. The fewer these flaws the rarer the gem. Imitation stones get their imperfections during manufacture, and as the chemists are more careful than Nature, these imperfections are less noticeable. By the following differences between the real and the artificial, you can test your ruby. A real ruby contains irregularly shaped bubbles; the imitation ruby contains bubbles that are perfectly round. Natural rubies all have a silky sheen, due to a number of tiny parallel lines going in three definite directions; imitation stones never have this characteristic.

While lab-created rubies and sapphires have a distinct use in jewelry, they can never affect the sale of the real gems any more than is the case with imitation pearls. Aside from the fact that the imitation can always be ultimately detected, the person desiring to purchase a ruby, as a ruby, and as a work of beauty and distinction wants a gem which he knows is one of nature’s rarities and is therefore possessed of intrinsically great value. A good illustration of this fundamental feeling is given by Mr. Zell a noted mineralogist, who says, “Many perfect copies of the Sistine Madonna have been made by good artists, the original is priceless, the copies at the most are worth a few hundred dollars, this is the relation of a gem made in nature’s laboratory to one produced by the chemist.”

Today, the ruby is still considered one of the most valuable and beautiful of the precious stones. Artisans of fine jewelry throughout the world continue to utilize this fine gem in their creations. Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July.

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Precious Stones – The Big Five
Part 3 – The Sapphire

The sapphire, protector of the innocent, celestial guardian of truth, bringer of health and youth, symbol of the heavens and birthstone for the month of September, is in fact the same stone as the ruby, the mineral corundum.

The blue corundum, ranging in color from the lightest blue to deep blue and black, is the same stone as the ruby, the only difference being in the color. The choicest color is the soft velvety blue, approaching the cornflower in shade and exhibiting that color vividly by artificial as well as by natural light. The deeper-colored stones are known as male, and the light-colored ones as female sapphires. Although choice sapphires are rare, a much greater quantity of good and large stones are to be had than of rubies, and therefore the price of a large sapphire does not advance in the same proportion as the price of a large ruby.

The word “sapphire” which means blue is of the same form in nearly all the early tongues, thus showing that they were in use by the ancients. Sapphires are found in many parts of the world and are usually found in the same locality as the ruby. The largest number and finest quality of these stones come from Thailand and India, and are found and recovered in much the same way as the ruby.

The sapphire is next to the diamond in hardness and it is this quality that makes it impervious to wear and insures its sharp edges and corners against years of use. Like the ruby the value of the sapphire is determined by its color. The finest stones are a deep blue and the deeper the color the more highly it is prized if its translucency is not impaired. Although the sapphire with its many shades of blue is considered the most desirable stone, it is also found in other colors such as red, green, yellow and pink.

The Oriental emerald or green sapphire does not approach the beryl or true emerald in depth of color, but because of its superior hardness and brilliancy, added to its extreme rarity, it is the most valuable of green gems. The Oriental amethyst or purple sapphire sometimes reflects a red color by artificial light, and is valued highly as a gem stone; the common amethyst is softer, less brilliant, and loses by artificial light. The various other colored sapphires, such as yellow or Oriental topaz, light green or Oriental aquamarine, greenish-yellow or Oriental chrysolite, and aurora red or Oriental hyacinth, are all valuable as gem stones when they are pure, well cut, and have pronounced colors – in fact, the name Oriental is given to distinguish the corundums from the less valuable minerals of the same colors which they resemble, but which they greatly surpass in beauty and value because of their brilliancy and superior hardness.

Asterias or star stones are corundums of three different colors; the star sapphire proper is a grayish blue, the star ruby red, and the star topaz yellow. These stones are usually cut cabochon or convex, and display under the rays of the sun, or when exposed to one candle or other artificial light, a beautiful star with six points. This star is produced by foreign substances in the corundum, and the lapidary brings about the regular effect by cutting a pointed carbuncle so that the center of the star begins at the apex, and the six bright stripes radiate to the base of the stone. The bright lines of the star following the light move over the surface of the stone and produce a remarkable effect. These stones are amongst the most wonderful of mineral productions, and good specimens are very valuable. The corundum cat’s-eye, called Oriental girasol or sunstone, has a bluish, reddish, or yellowish reflection of light of a lighter shade than the stone itself, and which moves on the convex surface of the stone like the lines of a star stone.

To this day, sapphire is one of the most important members of the family of gems and is certainly one of the most favored by jewelry artisans worldwide. Consequently, there is more “hanky-panky” with treatments, alteration of color and various other techniques to disguise or improve flaws etc., than almost any other precious stone. Buyer beware of bargains that look “too good to be true”. Deal with reputable jewelers both online and offline. The sapphire is the birthstone for September.

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Precious Stones – The Big Five
Part 4 – The Diamond

The diamond is generally regarded as the premier gem in the world of precious stones.

Of all the precious stones the diamond has the simplest composition; it is merely crystallized carbon. The most common substance that is known, a substance that is present in every plant, animal and mineral on the earth.

Diamonds come mostly from the mines in South Africa, but are also found in Brazil, India, Australia and even in the United States.

The diamond is the hardest substance known, being #10 on the Mohl scale, despite it’s hardness, the diamond is not indestructible; diamond will cut diamond; it can be burned in the air, being carbon and will leave behind carbon dioxide gas.

The facets of a cut diamond can be worn away to some extent by the constant rubbing of clothing. The diamond is also brittle, and can fracture if struck against a hard surface.

Diamonds have a wide range of color; most numerous are the whites, yellows, and browns in a great variety of shades; then come the greens; red stones of strong tints are very rare, as are also blue, which have been found almost exclusively in India; other tints of occasional occurrence are garnet, hyacinth, rose, peach-blossoms, lilac, cinnamon, and brown; black, rarities. Diamonds without tint or flaw are rare indeed and even most of the world’s famous diamonds have imperfections.

The origin of the diamond’s name is the Greek word adamas, meaning unconquerable; from the same root spring our words adamant and adamantine.

The origin of the diamond, according to classical mythology, was its formation by Jupiter, who transformed into stone a man, Diamond of Crete, for refusing to forget Jupiter after he had commanded all men to do so.

The Facts About Diamonds

A diamond’s value is based on four criteria: color, cut, clarity, and carat. The clarity and color of a diamond usually are graded. However, scales are not uniform: a clarity grade of “slightly included” may represent a different grade on one grading system versus another, depending on the terms used in the scale. Make sure you know how a particular scale and grade represent the color or clarity of the diamond you’re considering. A diamond can be described as “flawless” only if it has no visible surface or internal imperfections when viewed under 10-power magnification by a skilled diamond grader.

As with other gems, diamond weight usually is stated in carats. Diamond weight may be described in decimal or fractional parts of a carat. If the weight is given in decimal parts of a carat, the figure should be accurate to the last decimal place. For example, “.30 carat” could represent a diamond that weighs between .295 - .304 carat. Some retailers describe diamond weight in fractions and use the fraction to represent a range of weights. For example, a diamond described as 1/2 carat could weigh between .47 - .54 carat. If diamond weight is stated as fractional parts of a carat, the retailer should disclose two things: that the weight is not exact, and the reasonable range of weight for each fraction or the weight tolerance being used.

Some diamonds may be treated to improve their appearance in similar ways as other gemstones. Since these treatments improve the clarity of the diamond, some jewelers refer to them as clarity enhancement. One type of treatment - fracture filling - conceals cracks in diamonds by filling them with a foreign substance. This filling may not be permanent and jewelers should tell you if the diamond you’re considering has been fracture-filled.

Another treatment - lasering - involves the use of a laser beam to improve the appearance of diamonds that have black inclusions or pots. A laser beam is aimed at the inclusion. Acid is then forced through a tiny tunnel made by the laser beam to remove the inclusion. Lasering is permanent and a laser-drilled stone does not require special care.

While a laser-drilled diamond may appear as beautiful as a comparable untreated stone, it may not be as valuable. That’s because an untreated stone of the same quality is rarer and therefore more valuable. Jewelers should tell you whether the diamond you’re considering has been laser-drilled.

Imitation diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, resemble diamonds in appearance but are much less costly. Certain laboratory created gemstones, such as lab-created moissanite, also resemble diamonds and may not be adequately detected by the instruments originally used to identify cubic zirconia. Ask your jeweler if he has the current testing equipment to distinguish between diamonds and other lab-created stones.

Diamond jewelry: diamond rings, diamond earrings, diamond pendants and diamond bracelets are some of the most sought after gemstone creations. Your eyes tell you how beautiful a piece of diamond jewelry is, but how do you know you are getting your money’s worth?

A little knowledge can go a long way to help you purchase a beautiful piece of diamond jewelry at a fair price.

When shopping for diamond jewelry online, apply these tips.

  1. Shop with companies you know or do some homework before buying to make sure a company is legitimate before doing business with it.

  2. Take advantage of information and referrals from an Internet company you have come to trust.

  3. Get the details about the product, as well as the merchant's refund and return policies, before you buy.

  4. Look for an address to write to or a phone number to call if you have a question, a problem or need help.

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Precious Stones – The Big Five
Part 5 – The Pearl

Since pearls are so rare and possess such a high degree of natural beauty, they have been considered to be among the most splendid of gems for many centuries.

The people of India and Persia (Iraq) were among the earliest to collect pearls, because of the rich fisheries of Ceylon and the Persian Gulf, the Indian and Persian princes in the last century, acquired huge collections of pearls that have never been equaled, these collections would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars today.

Pearls A Natural Wonder

Natural or real pearls are made by oysters and other mollusks. Cultured pearls also are grown by mollusks, but with human intervention; that is, an irritant introduced into the shells causes a pearl to grow. Imitation pearls are man-made with glass, plastic, or organic materials.

Because natural pearls are very rare, most pearls used in jewelry are either cultured or imitation pearls. Cultured pearls, because they are made by oysters or mollusks, usually are more expensive than imitation pears. A cultured pearl’s value is largely based on its size, usually stated in millimeters, and the quality of its nacre coating, which give it luster. Jewelers should tell your if the pearls are cultured or imitation. Some black, bronze, gold, purple, blue and orange pearls, whether natural or cultured, occur that way in nature; some, however, are dyed through various processes. Jewelers should tell you whether the colored pearls are naturally colored, dyed or irradiated.

Clams, oysters, mussels and many other mollusks with limy shells are known to produce pearls. But very few kinds yield gem pearls of jeweler's quality. The pearl is an abnormal growth of mother-of-pearl, or nacre, imbedded in the soft bodies of these shellfish. It is built up, layer upon layer, in the same way as nacre is added to the lining of the growing shell and always has the same color and luster. For example, over the country, hundreds of good-sized pearls are found each year in the oysters we eat. Unfortunately these have no commercial value regardless of whether they have been cooked or not because they are dull opaque white or purple like the shell of the parent oyster. In recent times almost all pearls of gem quality come from the oriental pearl oyster which has a bright shimmering translucent nacre.

A pearl starts growing when some irritating foreign substance such as a sand grain, bit of mud, parasite or other object becomes lodged in the shell-producing gland called the mantle. Pearls formed in the soft flesh where nacre can be added on all sides are most likely to be spherical and the most highly prized. By far the great majority are flattened or variously distorted and have little value. Size, color, luster and freedom from flaws are other essential qualities. Unlike other gems, such as diamonds, pearls have an average life of only about 50 years. In time the small amount of water in a pearl's make-up is lost and its surface cracks. Because they are mostly lime, necklaces which are worn often are injured by the acid secretions of the human skin.

Though, the pearl is not technically a stone at all, it’s beauty has earned it a place in the Big 5 of precious stones. Jewelry artists have long appreciated the pearl and continue to utilize its charm in their creations

Buying pearl jewelry can be fun, exciting and confusing. Whether you’re considering a gift of pearl jewelry for someone special or as a treat for yourself, take some time to learn the terms used in the industry.

Pearl jewelry: pearl rings, pearl earrings, pearl pendants and pearl bracelets are some of the most sought after jewelry creations. Your eyes tell you how beautiful a piece of pearl jewelry is, but how do you know you are getting your money’s worth?

A little knowledge can go a long way to help you purchase a beautiful piece of pearl jewelry at a fair price.

When shopping for pearl jewelry online, apply these tips.

  1. Shop with companies you know or do some homework before buying to make sure a company is legitimate before doing business with it.

  2. Take advantage of information and referrals from an Internet company you have come to trust.

  3. Get the details about the product, as well as the merchant's refund and return policies, before you buy.

  4. Look for an address to write to or a phone number to call if you have a question, a problem or need help.

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The Pearl Necklace – A Timeless Beauty

It has been said that of all the pieces of jewelry in the world, a pearl necklace is the only thing that a woman should not be without. And that’s no wonder, for a pearl necklace is the embodiment of classic sophistication and timeless elegance. It goes with a variety of outfits, from casual day wear to formal evening attire. And depending on the type of pearl and color, there are various pearl necklace styles suitable for the very young, those enjoying their golden years, and almost everyone else in the middle.

The price of a pearl necklace depends on the quality of its pearls. Saltwater pearls are generally more expensive than freshwater ones, which are cultured. The sheen and the thickness of the pearls’ nacre also affect the price, as well as the size and roundness of the pearls themselves. Pearl necklaces of various colors are available on the market. Smaller pearls in light hues of blue or pink are usually more suitable for young children, while the creamier, ivory-toned pearls are preferred by older women. Jewelry pieces made from black pearls are very, very expensive, since these pearls are so rare.

According to Chinese folklore, pearls are the tears of a dragon. In Roman mythology, they are the tears of Venus. Jewelry designers, in their tireless efforts to do justice to the legendary beauty of these gems, have been adding their own twists to the pearl necklace. Aside from the classic strand, the pearls used in necklaces are sometimes set in gold, silver or platinum. Some designers also mix pearls with other gems to create a unique effect. Extra ornaments, such as charms or a brooch, can also be attached to a pearl necklace to give it a personalized flair.

Caring for a pearl necklace does not involve a lot of fuss. The most advisable thing to do is to wear it often, because if it’s stored away for long periods of time, it will dry up and lose its sheen. The body’s natural oils will keep the pearls looking lustrous and fresh. It’s also important to avoid having the pearls come in contact with substances such as hair spray or body lotion, since these can also adversely affect the pearls’ condition.

The popularity of the pearl necklace has never waned both among ordinary people and society’s elite. The quintessential fashion plate, Jackie Kennedy, had a passion for pearls; so does actress Maria Berenson. Other celebrities often photographed wearing pearl necklaces are Michelle Pfeiffer, Sophia Loren, Jennifer Lopez and Paris Hilton. The versatility of pearls is such that fashion experts are even predicting an increase in the number of men who will start wearing pearl-accented dress accessories. For now, however, there is very little to surpass the elegance of the sight of a pearl necklace gracing the neckline of a woman, whether she’s a celebrity or not.

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Opal Jewelry – Your Own Personal Piece of Rainbow

Opal is a magnificent gemstone whose shades encompass virtually every hue in the color spectrum. The play of color is different on every stone, and its shimmering hues gave rise to the word ‘opalescent.’ Because it is such an entrancing and unique gemstone, it is no wonder that opal jewelry is very popular among collectors and fashion enthusiasts.

Opal is the birthstone for October and its history is peppered with superstitions and beliefs that it caused both good luck and bad luck. In Europe, it used to be thought of as the ‘official’ stone of thieves and robbers. One of the greatest contributors to the myth that opal jewelry causes misfortune is a misreading of its depiction in Sir Walter Scott’s 19th-century novel ‘Anne of Geierstein.’

However, many cultures associate the opal with white magic and good fortune. The ancient Romans used opal jewelry as talismans and for them, it symbolized purity and hope. The ancient Greeks, on the other hand, believed that it gave the wearer the abilities to prophesy or foretell the future. It was also thought to bring luck to the wearer.

The popularity of opal jewelry is on the rise. Although it is classified as a semi-precious stone, the black opal can cost as much as a diamond. Opals can also range in price, depending on their color. Generally, red opals are the most expensive while blue opals are the least. Also, doublet or triplet opal jewelry, or a piece of opal that is sandwiched between two other materials is less expensive than solid opal pieces. Set in gold or silver, or embellished with other gemstones, there is a wide variety of opal jewelry to choose from.

Men and women throughout time have been fascinated and captured by the iridescent colors of opal jewelry. Bad or good luck notwithstanding, these multi-colored gems are worthy additions to any wardrobe. A person cannot be blamed for thinking that wearing an opal necklace, earrings, bracelet or ring is somehow just like having a piece of the rainbow close to the skin.

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Gemstone Color and Mystical Symbolism

The universe of colored gemstones is endlessly fascinating, for centuries, nearly every culture has held the belief that colored stones possess magical powers or the ability to endow the wearer with certain attributes. Due to the magical powers associated with colored gems, they were used extensively as amulets and talismans, portals to the future; and as important components to many spiritual practices.

Yellow stones when worn by a woman were a sign of generosity. Worn by a man, a yellow stone signaled secrecy (as with a secret lover).

A violet stone worn by a woman indicated lofty thoughts and love of a spiritual nature. For a man, sober judgment, steadfastness, and ambition.

Black stones revealed foolishness and capriciousness in young women, while in married women it showed fidelity, constant love and perseverance. A man wearing a black stone exhibited gravity, common sense, constancy, and inner strength.

Red stones when worn by a women indicated pride, haughtiness, and obstinacy. On a man nobility, command, leadership and vengeance.

Blue stones on a woman exposed jealousy in love, vigilance and social correctness. A man wearing blue stones meant wisdom, lofty thoughts and generosity.

Green stones for a woman meant unfounded ambition, childish delight, and change. Green stones for a man meant joy, lost friendship, and transitory hope.

In our modern world, gemstones are worn primarily for their inherent beauty. An almost endless choice of colors are available.

Red – rubies, garnets, red tourmalines, red diamonds and spinels. Blue – topaz, blue tourmaline, blue spinel, tanzanite, iolite and even blue diamonds.

Green – emeralds, green garnet (tsavorite) green tourmalines, peridots, green zirconia and diamonds …and so on

Today the possibilities for self-expression with colored stones are seemingly endless with choices in every price range and for every taste. Whether for fashion, fun or to express your inner feelings, everyone should enjoy the bounty of colorful stones that nature has provided.

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Gem and Crystal Jewelry – The Power to Heal?

References to the power of crystals and gems and their use in spiritual and healing rituals can be found in the ancient Mayan and Hebrew civilizations. Today the practice of using stones and crystals continues with ordinary people across the world who claim extraordinary results.

By stimulating a person's thought, it is believed that crystals stimulate healing – both physical and non-physical. Stones in the red family – red, yellow and orange – are prized for their ability to produce energy. On the other end of the spectrum, blue, violet, and lavender stones have a calming effect. In between are the clear and aquamarine stones that having healing properties.

Many people use and combine crystals to improve a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual conditions based on the healing properties attributed to each stone:

  • Amethyst – This "spiritually uplifting" stone can reduce anger, and impatience.
  • Aquamarine – This beautiful stone protects your heart and your immune system and aids communications on all levels…especially on the physical and spiritual planes.
  • Carnelian – The perfect stone for targeting your body's system, carnelian is a "stimulant" for your circulatory system, kidneys, appetite, emotions, and sexuality. It bestows confidence, assertiveness, and an unstoppable drive to succeed.
  • Citrine – Citrine can help with acid indigestion, food disorders, and allergies with cleansing powers aimed at your spleen, kidneys, liver, urinary system, and intestines. Mentally, citrine is valuable for emotional clarity, willpower, optimism, and self-discipline.
  • Coral – Use coral to strengthen your muscles and spine, and to promote bone and tissue regeneration. When it comes to your feels, coral can enliven and enrich your experience of emotions.
  • Diamond – A symbol of prosperity and love, diamonds increase personal clarity, trust, and confidence. They also amplify your thoughts and allow you to expand your strengths and positive attitudes.
  • Emerald – You'll breathe easier thanks to the positive effect of emeralds on your respiratory system. Emeralds can also help you get a good night's sleep and are believed to reduce the pain of childbirth.
  • Jade – The crystal of choice for courage, knowledge, justice, compassion, emotional balance, humility, generosity, harmony, wealth, and long life.
  • Lapis – Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, shyness, nervous system, speech, hearing, pituitary, inflammation, pain. Mind expansion, intuition, creativity, spiritual connection. Organize, quiet the mind.
  • Malachite – Let go with malachite. Use it to release pain, reduce inflammation, and rid yourself of anger and depression.
  • Ruby – It seems only natural that the red, red ruby is valuable for blood clots, blood cleansing, menstrual pain, and even impotency. Rubies simulate circulation and "amp up" the pituitary gland.
  • Sapphire – Sapphires are used to reduce inflammation, lower fevers, and put an end to nosebleeds. They are also valuable for helping you tap into your intution.

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Birthstone Origins – Stranger than Fiction

In the Old Testament, the book of Exodus tells the story of the Breastplate of Aaron, used in religious ceremonies. (Aaron…just in case you were absent from Sunday school that day…was the Biblical figure who performed, at Moses' direction, the miracles that confounded Pharaoh and his magicians.)

Aaron's breastplate was adorned with four rows of gemstones, three gemstones in each row, in the following pattern: Sardius, topaz, carbuncle; emerald, sapphire, diamond; ligure, agate, amethyst; beryl, onyx, jasper. These twelve gemstones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve positions were later co-opted by astologers who linked them to the twelve months of the calendar year and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

The Traditional Birthstone List contains these older birthstones and represents birthstone traditions heralding back to the 15th century. The Modern Birthstone List was created by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912 in Kansas City, Missouri. Gemstone purists complained that the NAJ list was devised solely for commercial purposes (they probably didn't believe in Santa Claus either!). As a result, astrologers who prescribed gems often substituted alternate or secondary stones. The Mystical Birthstone list below originated in from Tibet over a thousand years ago. The Ayurvedic Birthstone list is derived from age-old Ayurvedic Indian Medicine, a practice of native people for more than a century.

Month Modern Traditional Mystical Ayurverdic
January Garnet Garnet Emerald Garnet
February Amethyst Amethyst Amethyst Bloodstone
March Aquamarine Bloodstone Jade Bloodstone
April Diamond Diamond Opal Quartz
May Emerald Emerald Sapphire Agate
June Pearl Alexandrite Moonstone Pearl
July Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby
August Peridot Sardonyx Diamond Sapphire
September Sapphire Sapphire Agate Lapis Lazuli
October Opal Tourmaline Tourmaline Jasper
November Yellow Topaz Citrine Citrine Pearl
December Turquoise Lapis Lazuli Onyx Ruby

Astrologically speaking, your place on the Zodiac is more meaningful than your birth month for tapping into your "power," which has led to the creation of the following list of "Star Stones" related to the star under which you were born, rather than the day.

Capricorn (Dec. 22 – Jan. 19) – Ruby, Agate, Garnet
Aquarius (Jan. 20 – Feb. 18) – Garnet, Moss Agate, Opal, Amethyst
Pisces (Feb. 19 – Mar. 20) – Rock Crystal, Sapphire, Amethyst, Bloodstone
Aries (Mar. 21 – Apr. 19) – Bloodstone, Diamond
Taurus (Apr. 20 – May 20) – Sapphire, Turquoise, Amber, Blood Coral, Emerald
Gemini (May 21 – Jun. 20) – Agate, Chrysoprase, Pearl
Cancer (Jun. 21 – Jul. 22) – Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Ruby
Leo (Jul. 23 – Aug. 22) – Tourmaline, Sardonyx, Onyx
Virgo (Aug. 23 – Sep. 22) – Jasper, Carnelian, Jade, Sapphire
Libra (Sep. 23 – Oct. 22) – Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Peridot
Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov. 21) – Aquamarine, Topaz
Sagittarius (Nov. 22 – Dec. 21) – Sapphire, Amethyst, Turquoise, Topaz

So whether you choose an emerald from the Breastplate of Aaron, a moonstone from Tibet's mystical birthstone list, an opal for its ayurvedic birthstone properties, or your very own "star sign" representative…may the force (of the birthstone) be with you!

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Birthstone Jewelry Beliefs and Celebrity Birthdays

Wearing birthstone jewelry is very popular today. Not only is it fashionable; somehow, it also makes the item feel more personal and part of the wearer’s personality. Almost all gems are believed to be imbued with some special sort of power and this is one of the reasons why it is considered lucky to wear birthstone jewelry. Let’s look at some of the mystical properties and beliefs about these special gems and some famous people who would wear them.

January’s birthstone, the garnet, is believed to have blood purification properties and to protect against poisoning. Actress Faye Dunaway and supermodel Kate Moss are two celebrities who were born in January.

The amethyst, the gem of the month for February, is a symbol of serenity and peace. In addition, it’s reputed to protect the wearer from intoxication. Princess Stephanie of Monaco, singer Roberta Flack and actress Drew Barrymore have amethysts in their birthstone jewelry.

March’s birthstone is the clear blue aquamarine. Perhaps because of its color, it is sacred among sailors, who believe that it will protect them from the perils of the sea. NBA player Shaquille O’Neal, heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr. and singing legend Liza Minnelli are among the celebrities who are under the protection of the aquamarine.

The eternally stylish and elegant diamond is April’s birthstone. Believed to symbolize true love, it is the most popular gem used in wedding rings. Among the notables having diamond birthstone jewelry are England’s Queen Elizabeth II, actress Jessica Alba and tennis player Andre Agassi.

May’s birthstone is the enigmatic emerald. Some people believe that emeralds are magic and had the ability to make the wearer psychic. Famous people having the emerald as their birthstone include British Prime Minister Tony Blair, socialite Bianca Jagger and singer Janet Jackson.

The simple and classic pearl is the birthstone for June. It is viewed by various cultures as a symbol of power, love, purity and chastity. Pearl birthstone jewelry celebrities count sex symbols Marilyn Monroe and Angelina Jolie among their numbers.

The red ruby is July’s birthstone. It is believed to help in matters of love and to enhance sexual prowess. Hollywood actor Tom Cruise and the late Diana, Princess of Wales, are among the celebrities born in July.

Birthstone jewelry for August includes the lime green peridot, is traditionally believed to give good sleep and protect the wearer from nightmares. Oscar winner Halle Berry and Grammy winner Whitney Houston are two of the women who count the peridot as their birthstone.

Sapphire is the birthstone for September. It is believed the give the power of precognition and is also linked to joy and peace. Two glamorous figures who can be poster babies for sapphire birthstone jewelry are actresses Brigitte Bardot and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The delicate opal is October’s birthstone. Some cultures believe the opal brings bad luck, while others associate it with innocence and purity. Tony-winning actress Julie Andrews and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton were born in October.

The topaz is central in November’s birthstone jewelry. Medicine men and women in some cultures used ground topaz in their concoctions to heal asthma, and the birthstone was also reputed to have a calming effect on the quick-tempered. The late Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco and Hollywood actress Demi Moore are two examples of famous November babies.

Finally, we have turquoise as December’s birthstone. The Indians of North America revered this gem because of its power to warn the wearer of danger and because of the luck it brought. Pop princess Britney Spears and film director Steven Spielberg celebrate their birthdays in December.

Wearing birthstone jewelry is a popular tradition that continues to this day. Necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, brooches and many other dress accessories adorned with these gems are not only fashionable but also more meaningful for the wearer or for the recipients of such gifts. Also, having birthstone jewelry is a reminder that you have at least one thing in common with celebrities!

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Garnet Is January's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

January's birthstone: Garnet
Garnet Powers: Facilitates night vision, ensures success
Alternative Birthstone: Emerald

Garnet is the birthstone for the month of January and the traditional anniversary gemstone for the second year of marriage. Archaeologists have found primitive garnet jewelry among the graves of lake dwellers which dates the use of this popular gemstone to the Bronze age. Today they are mined in Brazil, India, Madagascar, India, Siberia, Africa, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Not all garnets are of gem quality. "Raw" garnets make a very effective abrasive and used commercially for grinding and polishing. Believe it or not, garnet-coated sandpaper is popular for industrial use.

Color Me Beautiful

Garnets are extremely diverse and offer enough variety in appearance (and color) to suit every taste. Although you may think of garnet as a red gem, the truth is that the garnet family of gemstones comes in a broad spectrum of colors, except blue.

Garnets of muted yellows, vibrant oranges, rosy pinks, lime greens, and violets are all part this gemstone's rainbow of hues. The diversity is due to unique combinations of elements within each particular gem, such as iron, calcium, and manganese.

What's In A Name?

Look at the seeds of a pomegranate and you'll immediately understand how the word "garnet" was derived from the Latin word "granatus," meaning "grain" or "seed." Garnet earned its name because of its close resemblance to the succulent red pomegranate seed. But don't bite into a garnet! Like a diamond, a garnet is strong. It has a Moh's scale hardness 6.5 to 7.5Ydefinitely not tooth-friendly.

A Greek myth tells the story of Peresphone, the young goddess of sunshine, who was abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. The devil eventually released her, but not before he offered her some pomegranate seeds, which guaranteed her return to him. Thus garnets have come to represent fidelity and commitment.

Rich Traditions

Legends, myths, and traditions abound when it comes to garnets. It is believed to be one of the 12 gemstones in Aaron's breastplate in the Hebrew tradition while Christians consider it is symbolic of Christ's sacrifice and the blood of their savior. Many faiths claim that Noah hung a large red garnet in the ark for illumination. In the Koran, garnets are believed to illuminate the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems. On a more earthly plane, Egyptians believed that garnets protected them from snakebite and was an antidote to food poisoning.

A gift of garnet is thought to be symbolic of love and the desire for a loved one's safe travel and speedy homecoming. It is January's birthstone, but far from being only a winter gem, the garnet, with its brilliance and multitude of colors, is truly one for any season.

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Amethyst Is February's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

February's birthstone: Amethyst
Birthstone powers: Brings peace and calm to your life
Alternative Birthstone: Bloodstone

Amethyst is the birthstone for the month of February and the traditional anniversary gemstone for the sixth of marriage. Once considered more valuable than diamonds, this member of the quartz member occurs naturally as crystals within rocks. The stones are mined in Brazil, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Zambia, Australia and in the mountains of Russia.

American amethysts are mined in Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Montana and Colorado. Amethyst from Maine is usually dark with North Carolina amethyst having a bluish tint unique to that area. Amethyst can lighten if exposed to strong sunlight for a long time. When heated to 550-560 Centigrade, the color changes to dark yellow or reddish brown. (They are then called citrines. These are more richly colored and more expensive then natural citrines.)

Ideally deep medium purple with rose-colored flashes, amethysts generally range in hue from pale lilac to nearly black purple. Since purple has always been the color of royalty, amethysts abound in the ornaments of in the British Crown Jewels and in the adornments of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, as well. They have been found in ruins dating as far back as the ninth century, adorning royal jewelry, scepters, and crowns.

The intense violet hue of February's birthstone appealed to early monarchs, perhaps because they often wore this color…as a symbol of their elevated position. Purple dye was once scarce and expensive, so it was reserved for the garments of royalty, and the color came to symbolize power and status.

Sobering Thoughts with Amethyst

The Greeks believed that whoever wore an amethyst or drank from an amethyst cup would not become intoxicated. In fact, the word amethyst is derived from the Greek word "amethystos," meaning sober. In ancient Greece, the gemstone was associated with the god of wine, and it was common practice to serve this beverage from Amethyst goblets in the belief that this would prevent overindulgence. It was also claimed that amethyst had a sobering effect on those "drunk" on love’s passion.

Even today, amethyst is considered a stabilizing force for those struggling to overcome addictive behaviors. In general, the gemstone is believed to be a calming, tranquil influence that symbolizes peace.

Amethyst and Prayer

Amethyst is symbolic of piety, spirituality, and a devotion to God. The rich purple gemstones are used worldwide to ornament churches and crosses used in religious ceremony, and they frequently found in the rings and on the rosaries worn by bishops and priests.

It is also believed that amethysts bring on pleasant dreams because they allow you to "channel" positive universal energy. As a result many people place an amethyst under their pillow before going to sleep at night to enjoy "sweet dreams" throughout the night.

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Aquamarine is March's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

March Birthstone: Aquamarine
Birthstone Properties: Bestows courage, insight, and victory
Alternative Birthstone: Bloodstone

Aquamarine is the traditional birthstones for March. It is also the accepted anniversary gem for the 19th year of marriage. Aquamarine is mined primarily in Brazil, Nigeria and Zambia.

Water Baby

Created by combining Latin words for water (aqua) and sea (mare), aquamarine does indeed resemble the bottomless blue of seawater. Like Emerald, aquamarine is a variety of beryl (a mineral that crystallizes within large rocks on the earth's crust).

Aquamarine varies in color from blue-green to a light sky blue, and for generations, those stones containing green are often heat-treated to remove this less desirable color. Surprisingly, unlike other coveted gemstones, the majority of aquamarines are flawless. As a gift, aquamarine is unsurpassed in its legendary abilities to preserve and enhance mutual love, to ensure truth in relationships and to maintain a good marriage

When In Rome…

Ancient Romans believed the magnificent gemstone was sacred to Neptune, the god of the sea. Some legends say that it was gift from mermaids, while others suggest that Neptune retrieved it after it fell from the jewel boxes of sirens and washed onto shore. Early sailors wore aquamarine talismans, engraved with the likeness of Neptune, as protection against dangers at sea.

The association with water led to the belief that the Aquamarine was particularly powerful when immersed. Water in which this gemstone had been submerged was used in ancient times to heal a variety of illnesses of the heart, liver, stomach, mouth and throat. Aquamarines were also used to reverse poisoning and to aid in fortune telling.

Heal Me

Many believe that aquamarine helps dependence on drugs, is an aid in digestion, and can be used as remedy for swollen glands and to maintain the health of the jaws and teeth.

On the non-physical plain, aquamarine is believed to release anger and negativity replacing them with mental peace and clarity, providing emotional and mental balance. It has been used as an aid in meditation and to assist in self-expression.

A Gift of Love

To dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends. To wear aquamarine brings love and affection. To give aquamarine is to offer the gift of knowledge, foresight and individual inspiration. It is a universal symbol of youth, fidelity, hope and health.

Ideal for carving into cameos and beads, the "blue sea" stone is said to aid seafarers so it is a wonderful gift for sailors, fishermen, and everyone who spends time at sea. A a gift of aquamarine symbolizes safety and security, especially within long standing relationships.

Caveat Emptor (Buyer beware): The beautiful light blue to blue-green color of aquamarine may fade upon prolonged exposure to light, so it is especially important to purchase this gem from a reputable source.

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Diamond is April's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

April's Birthstone: Diamond
Birthstone Properties: Enhances competence, trust and love
Alternative Birthstone: Opal

Formed deep within the earth where there is intense heat and pressure, diamonds are simply crystallized carbon. April's birthstone is the perennial first choice for engagement rings, but is it also the anniversary gem for the 10th and 60th years of marriage when eternity bands and other diamond-detailed rings replace original wedding bands.

The ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen to earth. It was even said by some that they were the tears of the Gods or perhaps crystallized lightning or hardened dew drops. In fact, the exact origin of diamonds is still something of a mystery, even to scientists and geologists.

India is thought to be the first river-bed source of diamond mining. The ancient Hindus called the diamond "Vajra," (lightening) because of the sparks of light that it emits as well as its invincible strength. Arguably the most beautiful gemstones on the planet, diamonds are also harder than any other substance on earth and found today in Australia, Botswana, Russia and South Africa.

Dr. Diamond

Diamonds have long been credited for having certain medicinal properties. During the middle ages, these gemstones were thought to heal illness, but only if the ailing person took the diamond into bed to warm it up first!

Of Kings and Queens, Archdukes and Duchesses

Legend has it that Cupid’s arrows were tipped in diamonds and over the centuries, this magnificent gemstone has acquired a well-deserved reputation as the ultimate gift of love.

In less democratic times, diamonds were reserved for royalty…the only people "entitled" to their symbolism of strength, courage and invincibility. But in 1477, Archduke Maximillian of Austria gave a diamond ring to Mary of Burgundy and before long the tradition of diamond engagement rings was one embraced by even the most humble brides-to-be and their suitors.

The diamond's white hue signifies life, joy and innocence. But diamonds may be nearly any color in the rainbow plus a wide range of browns, grays, and white. Shades of yellow are most common, followed by colorless. Blue, black, reddish, and greenish are more valuable (some extremely so).

P.S. I Love You

It's interesting to note that a woman wears her diamond on the third finger of her left hand because early Egyptians believed the vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the heart to the top of the third finger, left hand

A gift of a Diamond is symbolic of everlasting love. There is no more convincing a promise of an enduring relationship than the brilliant gemstone that has endured in people's hearts throughout the history.

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Emerald Is May's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

May's Birthstone: Emerald
Birthstone Properties: Symbolizes serenity and peace of mind.
Alternative Birthstone: Sapphire

Emerald is the birthstone for May and also the anniversary gemstone for the 20th and 35th years of marriage. Some people believe wearing an emerald brings wisdom, growth…patience. It is perhaps this last attribute that may explain why a gift of emerald for an anniversary -- or any occasion -- is symbolic of love and fidelity.

All Eyes on Emeralds

Emeralds were once prescribed for eye diseases because the green color was believed to be soothing to the eyes. Early stone cutters kept emeralds at their tables to gaze upon as a way to give their eyes a break. Even 21st Century color specialists agree that green is soothing, restful, and relaxing for the eyes.

Today's versatile emeralds continue to be "easy on the eyes," used in earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other body adornment.

The Color of Spring

An emerald shines like green lightning, filling us with the same wonder as the civilizations that came before us. Ancient Egyptians mined emeralds in the eastern desert region 2,000 years before Cleopatra’s birth, yet today recent finds in North Carolina may provide a new source for quality emeralds in the U.S. Colombia, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Madagascar, Nigeria, and Russia are where most emeralds are mined in the 21st Century.

May's birthstone seems perfectly suited to the rites of Spring, matching the colors of the season with its own bottomless green. In fact, the Egyptians engraved emeralds with symbols for Spring foliage to represent eternal youth, and then buried the jewels with their dead. Elsewhere in the ancient world, the Romans associated emeralds with fertility and the rebirth brought about each Spring. Nero, it's said, watched the gladiators through emerald glasses

The Incas worshiped emeralds…as long as they could. In the 1500's, they were invaded by Spanish Conquistadors who stole their gemstones and pillaged their mines. As a result, many of the world's most magnificent emeralds were lost at the bottom of the sea inside shipwrecked Spanish galleons.

It's Not Easy Being Green

The word "emerald" is a variation of the Greek word "smaragdos," which means "green stone"…perfectly appropriate for a gemstone that is, in fact, the green variety of the mineral beryl. Emeralds range from strong bluish-green to green hues, although some emeralds have a slightly yellowish green. If the hue is too yellow…or too blue…it loses its "emerald" status and is simply a different variety of beryl.

Colombian emeralds are generally agreed to be among the most beautiful gemstones in the world, with a grass-green coloring highlighted by a touch of blue.

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Pearl Is June's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

June's Birthstone: Pearl
Birthstone Properties: Truth and beauty
Alternative Birthstones: Moonstone and Alexandrite

Pearl is the official birthstone of the month of June. It is also the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 3rd and 30th years of marriage. Pearls have adorned crowns, clothing, and temples, and were said to be a favorite of Cleopatra, yet there are perfectly suited to young girls and are a popular gift for first communion.

Pearls come in a wide range of colors from delicate rose white to black. The higher the luster or “orient,” the more valuable the specimen. Greeks believed that pearls were the hardened tears of joy that the Love Goddess shook from her eyes as she was born from the sea. In Arab legend, pearls were formed when oysters were lured from the depths of the ocean by the beautiful moon and then swallowed moonlit dewdrops. Ancient Chinese thought that these gems originated from the brains of dragons.

Whatever their origins, pearls are magnificent!

Round Pearl…and Her Shapely Sisters It's hard to believe that the coveted pearl comes naturally from one of the humblest of life forms -- the mollusk. Divers find natural pearls in The Persian Gulf as well as in the waters off Japan, the South Pacific Islands off northern Australia, and the coasts of Panama, Venezuela, and California.

Besides the popular round shape most people associate with pearls, there are also large hemispherical cultured pearls (called mabe), fresh water pearls (elongated in interesting shapes and colors) and South Sea cultured pearls (from Australia and Indonesian waters) that grow to 10 mm and up!

Gems of unsurpassed beauty and elegance, pearls have been a passion and even an obsession of people throughout the ages. They have been ground up and used in cosmetics and as a medicine to treat heart and stomach conditions. Some cultures swear by pearls as an aphrodisiac.

Only those with royal status once wore pearl jewelry, but eventually these gems were seen among all classes of people. They continue to be viewed as a mark of taste and refinement as well as a symbol of purity, and they are often given to celebrate a marriage or the birth of a child. Pearls are nature's perfect gift, suitable for all ages, and elegantly worn with everything from jeans to an evening gown.

Alternate Birthstones

Moonstone is a type of feldspar that earned its name because of its resemblance to the iridescent sheen of the moon. Varying in color from clear to blue-white or peach, it was believed to endow the wearer with great spiritual understanding. A gift of this stone is symbolic of health and longevity.

Alexandrite. A yellowish or brownish green in color, this gemstone has the unique characteristic of changing color to a red hue when exposed to a glowing light source, such as candlelight. Because of this quality, it has been characterized by poets as "an emerald by day, a ruby by night."

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Ruby Is July's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

July's Birthstone: Ruby
Birthstone Properties: Fire and emotion
Alternative Birthstone: Sapphire

Ruby is the birthstone for July and also the anniversary gemstone for the 15th and 40th years of marriage. The history of ruby mining dates back more than 2,500 years ago, and today the coveted gemstone is found in Burma, Thailand, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Cambodia, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States.

Called the "Lord of Gems" by ancient Hindus, rubies are one of the most highly prized gems throughout history. The fiery glow of rubies is said to come from the gemstone's internal and eternal flame.

For this reason, the gift of a ruby is a symbol of everlasting love. If worn on the left hand, ancient lore has it that the Ruby will bring good fortune. It is a perfect engagement ring gemstone and a popular alternative to or addition to diamond engagement bands.

Hard, but Soft The word ruby comes from the Latin "ruber," meaning red. It is a variety of the mineral Corundum that is called sapphire when it is any color except red…only when it is red does it earn the designation of "ruby."

But that's not to say that there's only one "red" for rubies. Rubies range in hue from an orangey red to a purplish red, although the most treasured rubies are still true red in color.

The ruby is a very durable gemstone, surpassed in hardness only by diamonds. But despite its hard nature, it has a soft side. According to legend, you should never make faces at a ruby in a museum or ignore it because it will grow dull if slighted or not worn or seen.

Deliver Me From Evil

Royalty chose rubies as a powerful talisman that could help protect them against evil by anticipating its arrival. Monarchs thought that rubies would darken when peril was danger, and then return to its original color once the threat was past.

In an interesting way, rubies had their own built-in anti-theft device: it was believed that in order for rubies to act for good, it was believed that they had to be in the hands of their rightful owner.

A Ruby By Any Other Name

Gemstones that are not rubies are also called rubies. The Balas Ruby is a type of spinel (a hard glassy mineral). Bohemian Rubies are derived from rose quartz, and Siberian "rubies" are really red or pink tourmaline. In the United States, the American, Cape, Montana, and Rocky Mountain "rubies" are really different varieties of garnet.

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Peridot is August's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

August's Birthstone: Peridot
Birthstone Properties: Illumination
Alternative Birthstone: Sardonyx

Peridot is the birthstone for August and 16th anniversary gemstone. Its name comes from the Arabic word "faridat," meaning gem. Peridot is sometimes referred to as an “Evening Emerald” because under artificial light it glows as a brilliant green.

Peridot is transparent with subtle color in a variety of greens, ranging from light yellowish green to a dark olive. The purer green a peridot is, the higher the value. Any tinge of brown greatly diminishes the value of a peridot, as well as visible flaws.

Ancient History Found in both early Greek and early Roman jewelry, peridot has been popular since 1500 BC when the Egyptians started mining it. The Egyptians called the lustrous stone the "gem of the sun" and believed it had the power to ward off anxiety, enhance speech, and foster success in relationships and marriage.

Peridot crystals are sometimes combed from the black sands of Hawaii where the gemstone is abundant and available in larger sizes. Hawaiians believe that peridot is the tears shed by Pele, the volcano goddess. Pele must have traveled extensively, however, because peridot is also mined in Burma, Norway, Brazil, Australia, Hawaii, the Congo, and in Arizona.

Peridot is found in Europe in many medieval churches decorating several treasures, including the Cologne Cathedral. Peridot use peaked during the Baroque era, but the gemstone fell out of favor over time until the 1990's when a new source in Pakistan re-ignited interest in the forgotten stone.

Take Two and Call Me in the Morning

Legend has it that drinking from a peridot goblet can increase the potency of medicines. Egyptian priests drank from cups made of peridot, believing it would draw them closer to Isis, their goddess of nature. Peridot was said to be useful for calming raging angers, curing nervous afflictions and promoting tranquility in high-strung individuals.

Many legends state that peridot was considered a powerful amulet against all evil, as well as a remedy for sinus problems. Powdered peridot has been used to cure asthma, while a peridot stone placed under the tongue of someone with fever is believed to lessen his/her thirst.

Making Dreams Come True

Peridot was thought to help dreams become a reality, and was often given as a symbol of fame, strength and vitality…as well as promise of new growth in the years ahead. It also symbolizes eloquence and persuasiveness.

Peridots were especially favored by pirates. The terrors of the sea considered peridot powerful amulets against all evil, and when set in gold, were said to protect the wearer from the terrors of the night… including nightmares.

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Sapphire is September's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

September's Birthstone: Sapphire
Birthstone Properties: Brings physical and emotional balance.
Alternative Birthstone: Agate

Sapphire is the birthstone for September and the gemstone given for anniversaries of the 5th and 45th years of marriage. Taken from the Greek word for blue, "sapphirus", sapphires have a time-honored tradition with priests (who considered them symbolic of purity) and king s (who considered them symbolic of wisdom.)

Sapphires were mined as early as the 7th Century BC in India and what is now Sri Lanka. Today they are found in Sri Lanka, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Kashmir, Myanmar, Thailand, China, Madagascar, and the United States.

Against Which All Others Are Measured

Sapphires, like rubies, are a variety of corundum. The sapphire's color spectrum includes pink and lavender varieties, a rare orange hue, and, of course, the velvety blue sapphire that earned the gemstone its name.

Because of the way in which corundum crystals are formed, large sapphires are rare…and valuable. The priceless 563-carat Star of India, on display at New York City's Museum of Natural History, is the largest and most famous of "star sapphires" (sapphires that are cut to reflect light from inclusions within the stone to reveal a bright six-legged star pattern).

To Your Health

So strong was the power of a sapphire, it was alleged that a venomous snake put in a vessel made of sapphire would quickly die. Sapphires therefore earned the reputation as an excellent all-purpose medicine and were ingested as an antidote to poison. Additionally, sapphires were ground into powders as a remedy for everything from colic to rheumatism and mental illness.

Sapphires were also believed to be able to stop bleeding and cure disorders of the eye.

The Eyes Have It

Egyptians associated the clear sapphire with the eye of Horas -- the all-seeing, all-knowing "eye in the sky" -- while the gemstone was used by the Greeks to to tap into the subconscious mind by stimulating the opening of the "third eye."

A Mirror of the Soul

Husbands and wives in ancient times frequently exchanged gifts of sapphires. Although the fact that sapphires represent sincerity and faithfulness was undoubtedly the primary reason it was a popular marriage gift, another motive may have been at work: it was believed that a sapphire would not shine if worn by someone who was wicked or impure.

Sapphires were considered to be so powerful they continued to protect the original owner even after being sold.

Say It With Sapphires

Clear sapphires, like diamonds, are the guardians of love. When exchanged with a loved one, sapphires enhance feelings for one another and attunes the two psyches. Sapphires have the power to banish envy and jealousy, and are said to promote chastity in virgins and fidelity in marriage.

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Opal is October's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

October's Birthstone: Opal
Birthstone Properties: Enhances insight and dispels fear
Alternative Birthstone: Tourmaline

Opal is the birthstone for October and the gemstone given to commemorate a 14th wedding anniversary. The word "opal" for this dynamic gemstone was derived from the Greek word "opallus" which means to see a change in color…because it is, after all, opal's abilty to refract and reflect specific wavelengths of light that make it so special. In fact, there are more than a dozen varieties of fiery and iridescent opals.

Opal is a non-crystallized silica, a mineral found near the earth's surface in areas where ancient geothermal hot springs once existed. Romans called the magnificent gemstone "Cupid Paederos," meaning a child as beautiful as love. They believed that opals fell to earth from the heavens in a flash of lightening.

However they arrived in on Earth originally, today opals must be mined from deposits found primarily in Southern Australia, although other sources exist in Brazil, Mexico, Czechoslovakia, and Nevada.

Crown Jewels

Opal has symbolized hope, innocence and purity through the ages. During the Middle Ages, fair-haired young women put sapphires in their tresses to protect the lovely blond color of their hair. Physicians ground opals into a powder that was ingested to ward off nightmares.

Since the 14th century, many cultures have considered this stone to be an Eye Stone, a stone that watches over royal families as well as a stone that strengthens the eyesight. They believed it to be the "king of gems" because an opal holds within its fire all the colors of the rainbow…and all other gems, as well. And like many birthstones, opals were treasured by ancient monarchs for their appearance AND their powers.

Opals were routinely set into the crowns and necklaces of rulers who believed the protective powers of the gemstones would ward off evil. Writers of the period believed the opal could render its wearer invisible when the need arose.

The Russians had the complete opposite belief in opals, viewing them as nothing but bad luck..

Always the Right Gift

A gift of Opal is symbolic of faithfulness and confidence. And the wide range of choices in opal make them a perfect gift for anyone:

Black Opal - the stone has a dark body tone in comparison to a white opal.

White Opal - also known as 'milky opal', featuring light white body tones

Boulder Opal - very dark and beautiful in color

Crystal Opal - any opal with a transparent or semi-transparent body tone. Forms of crystal opal include black crystal and white crystal.

Fire Opal - an American term meaning any opal that displays a significant amount of red coloring. Mexican fire opal is a different kind of opal, which displays orange coloring)

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Citrine Is November's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

November's Birthstone: Citrine
Birthstone Properties: Increases creativity and feelings of joy
Alternative Birthstone: Yellow Topaz

Citrine is the birthstone for November and the traditional anniversary gemstone for the 13th year of marriage. Its name comes from an old French word for lemon -- "citrin". A variety of quartz and the "sister stone" to the purple variety known as Amethyst, citrine comes in a wide range of colors. Some believe that some citrine may have actually begun as amethyst, but that nearby molten rock changed it to the yellow form of quartz.

Mined mainly in Brazil, but also found in Bolivia, citrines come in vivid yellows and oranges, and also the unusual and extremely popular "madeira red." (Citrines that are pale yellow or yellowish-brown are often mistaken for yellow or golden topaz.) Natural citrine can also be found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, in Dauphine, France, and in Madagascar

Cure-All Citrine, like all forms of quartz, was believed to have magical powers. People carried citrine as a protective talisman against the plague, bad skin and evil thoughts. It was also used as a charm against the bites of snakes and other venomous reptiles. Yellow and orange colors of the citrine gemstone were said to offer protection from dangers when traveling, to ward off evil, and to keep sickness away on land or on sea.

Through history, citrine has been used extensively in improving the function of the body's organs including the heart, liver, kidneys and digestive system. It is still used by healing practitioners to remove toxins from the body and to treat muscular disorders, as well as help stimulate healing in general. Citrine is also said to help provide relief from the effects of radiation, and to facilitate absorption of antioxidants.

Mental Health Citrine is believed to be especially powerful for stimulating one's mental capacities, thereby enhancing creativity and bolstering self-confidence. It is said that wearing citrine will improve memory, make you feel more optimistic, and give you more energy in everything you do. The magnetic powers of citrine are believed to relieve depression, fear, and give you the confidence that you need to continue with success in your life.

Giving citrine as a gift symbolizes wishes for hope and strength. Bursting with sunshine-yellow brightness, it is the ideal gemstone for helping anyone get through tough times!

Buyer's Guide A tremendous amount of citrine that is available on the market today is heat-treated amethyst. Natural citrine is much lighter than the heat-treated material which is dark orange-brown to reddish-brown in color.

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Turquoise Is December's Birthstone

If you're still young enough to remember your birthday, you probably also remember the special birthstone assigned to it. But at your age, we bet you don't really know the SIGNIFICANCE of your birthstone and what power the ancients felt would be bestowed about you by wearing it.

December's Birthstone: Turquoise
Birthstone Properties:
Alternative Birthstone: Lapis Lazuli

Turquoise is the birthstone for December and the traditional gift to commemorate the 5th and 11th years of marriage. It's color is, of course, is referred to as turquoise, but the hue can range widely from the familiar green-blue to a light sky-blue.

It is generally accepted that turquoise gets its name from "pierre turquoise" a French phrase meaning "Turkish stone." Others believe that the name comes from the Persian word "fiouze," meaning the color turquoise. Ancient and yet always at the height of current fashion, turquoise was mined by early Egyptians as early as 6000 BC.

Many people are surprised to learn that the finest turquoise comes from Iran, not the American Southwest. However beautiful specimens are also found in Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, as well as in Australia, Afghanistan and other localities in the Middle East.

Sacred Stone

For thousands of years, turquoise has been appreciated as a holy stone, talisman, and a good-luck-charm. The excavation of Egyptian tombs from approximately 3,000 B.C. holds the oldest living proof of man's interest in turquoise, where the gemstone was found decorating artifacts that were buried with the dead. When the tomb of Queen Zer was unearthed in 1900, a turquoise and gold bracelet was found on her wrist, one of the oldest pieces of jewelry ever discovered!

In ancient Persian, the sky-blue gemstones were originally worn around the neck or on the hand as protection to ward off unnatural death. If the stones changed their colour, there was an imminent danger for the wearer.

Turquoise also has a sacred place in the religious rites of North American Indians and by the Tibetans, whose shamans include it in rituals and ceremonies. Turquoise is said to promote mental and spiritual clarity to enhance wisdom, trust, kindness, and understanding.

You've Got the Power

Apache Indians believed that turquoise gave warriors and hunters better aim and Zuni tribes believed that it protected them from demons. In Asia, turquoise was considered protection against the evil eye, while Tibetans carved turquoise into ritual objects.

Wherever in the world it is worn and loved, turquoise is believed to promote prosperity

Traveler's Aid

For centuries, turquoise was thought to protect riders and horses from falls. Today the beautiful stone is considered a good luck "charm" for aviators, flight staff and other professionals who need to ward off accidents.

Turquoise's bright and happy color is supposed to lend self-confidence to subdued personalities, and it is also very popular as a token of friendship, since Turquoise is reputed to be responsible for faithfulness and reliable relationships

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Turquoise Necklace Facts and Beliefs

‘Pieces of sky.’ That’s how turquoise was called by some Native American tribes. Indeed, it requires no great stretch of the imagination to understand why turquoise was referred to as such. Just as the heavens could be a peaceful or stormy blue, so could turquoise seem to express different moods with its different shades of blue and green. Wearing pieces of sky in a turquoise necklace is a provocative and attractive idea.

Known as the birthstone of December, turquoise can be opaque or translucent, and a turquoise necklace made of beads conveys an iridescent, whimsical effect. Some jewelry designers set their turquoise necklaces in platinum, silver, or gold; at times, they use other gemstones in conjunction with turquoise for a complementary, enhancing effect. Chokers or neckbands decorated with turquoise are also popular as fashion accessories.

Necklaces made from Persian or Iranian turquoise are the most expensive, since this variety of turquoise is considered to be of the highest quality. However, less expensive varieties are available from Mexican, Chinese, Egyptian and American sources. Turquoise necklaces are popular items in Native American and Southern jewelry collections, but by and large, they have found their way into mainstream culture. They are perfect for casual wear, especially during summer, but can also be worn combined with other jewels for more formal occasions. Socialite Nicky Hilton, country singer Lari White and actress Ali Landry are some of the celebrities who have been photographed wearing turquoise necklaces.

According to gemologists, turquoise is believed by people of different cultures to have healing, protective, and restorative powers. Folklore also tells us that turquoise would fade or change color when the wearer was in danger or if a lover had been unfaithful. Whether a person believes in such tales or not, the fact remains that a turquoise necklace and other pieces of turquoise jewelry are not only fashionable and beautiful dress accessories, they have also played a major role in the shaping of various cultures as well.

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The Truth About Gold Jewelry

Without a doubt, Gold is one of the world’s most precious metals. It is also a certainty that gold enjoys an unsurpassed popularity as a medium for jewelry expression. Both jewelry artisans and consumers alike are "in love" with gold. There seems to be no end to the range of colors, finishes and styles available and gold remains a perennial favorite setting for gemstones.

Gold can last forever, will not corrode or rust and can be found anywhere. Gold exists in plants, rivers, oceans, mountains, it’s nearly everywhere but it is extremely difficult and costly to extract this amazing metal. Did you know that a single ounce of gold can be pulled into a thin wire that stretches nearly five miles long? An artisans hammer can work that same ounce into a very thin sheet that can cover a 10ft x 10ft(100sq. ft.) area. Also, it takes nearly 3 tons of gold or to extract a single ounce of pure gold. Well if you didn’t now you know!

Gold Basics

The word Gold, used by itself, means all gold or 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metals to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.

The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Fourteen karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of base metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry.

Most jewelry is marked with its karat quality, although marking is not required by law. Near the karat quality mark, you should see the name of the U.S. registered trademark of the company that will stand behind the mark. The trademark may be in the form of a name, symbol or initials. If you don’t see a trademark accompanying a quality mark on a piece of jewelry, look for another piece.

Solid gold refers to an item made of any karat gold, if the inside of the item is not hollow. The proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry still is determined by the karat mark.

Jewelry can be plated with gold in a variety of ways. Gold plate refers to items that are either mechanically plated, electroplated, or plated by any other means with gold to a base metal. Eventually, gold plating wears away, but how soon will depend on how often the item is worn and how thick the plating is.

Gold-filled, gold overlay and rolled gold plate are terms used to describe jewelry that has a layer of at least 10 karat gold mechanically bonded to a base metal. If the jewelry is marked with one of these terms, the term or abbreviation should follow the karat quality of the gold used (for example, 14K Gold Overlay or 12K RGP). If the layer of karat gold is less than 1/20th of the total weight of the item, any marking must state the actual percentage of karat gold, such as 1/40 14K Gold Overlay.

Gold electroplate describes jewelry that has a layer (at least .175 microns thick) of a minimum of 10 karat gold deposited on a base metal by an electrolytic process. The terms gold flashed or gold washed describe products that have an extremely thin electroplating of gold (less than .175 microns thick). This will wear away more quickly than gold plate, gold-filled or gold electroplate.

Vermeil (ver-may), a special type of gold plated product, consists of a base of sterling silver that is coated or plated with gold.

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Gold Jewelry: The Rest of the Story

Gold is one of the metals taken from the earth and is probably the first metal known to man. Its first use has been traced back to 3600 B. C. and was probably originally obtained in Egypt, as the ancient methods of obtaining gold in Egypt are illustrated in early rock carvings. It is said in the book of Genesis that Abraham, in the twentieth century B. C., when he went out of Egypt, was very rich not only in cattle but in gold and silver both in dust and ingots. In Exodus xxv, 29, we read that Moses was commanded by the Lord to make spoons of gold for the Tabernacle. In the writings of Homer, Sophocles, Herodotus, Pliny and others, gold is frequently mentioned.

Gold is widely distributed in nature and is found in many ways and in all parts of the world. It is found in water, in the ice of Alaska, in the sand of South Africa, and in the quartz of Colorado, and is frequently found native, though usually alloyed with silver or iron. The purest specimens of native gold have yielded from 96 to 99 per cent, pure metal.

It is remarkable that all of the races of mankind have selected gold as the first and chief representative of value. In the earliest times it was used as a medium of exchange in the form of bars, spikes and rings; the rings could be opened and closed so that a chain could be made for convenience in carrying. Gold was also used at a very early period for the construction of personal ornaments, as the savage found it easy to beat out the pure ore into circlets to adorn his limbs. The universal use of gold in preference to all other metals is due to its many properties; its color and luster, its malleability and its indestructibility. Gold does not tarnish nor can it be destroyed. It may be reduced to a liquid and the liquid transferred to a powder, and the powder when melted in a crucible returns to its natural state. It is the most malleable of all metals and has been hammered into leaves 1-282,000th of an inch thick. An ounce of gold may be drawn out into a wire fifty miles long. The tenacity of gold is seven tons per square inch.

Pure gold, being too soft for all ordinary purposes, is generally alloyed with other metals. Silver and copper are the principal alloys used, although iron is used in small quantities for different purposes. Pure silver has a brilliant white color and is the whitest of all metals. No metal surpasses silver in its luster and hardness it ranges between pure gold and pure copper. It is more fusible than copper or gold, melting at a bright red heat or at 1873F. It is commonly used for the purpose of alloying gold in its pure state, but if too much is added it makes the gold pale. Pure copper is the only metal that has a reddish appearance. It is both malleable and ductile; hence it is very useful as an alloy for gold.

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Buying Platinum Jewelry Without Being Ripped Off

Buying Platinum jewelry can be fun, exciting and confusing. Whether you’re considering a gift of Platinum jewelry for someone special or as a treat for yourself, take some time to learn the terms used in the industry. Here’s some information to help you get the best quality Platinum jewelry for your money, whether you’re shopping in a traditional brick and mortar store or online.

Platinum is a precious metal that costs more than gold. It usually is mixed with other similar metals, known as the platinum group metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.

Different markings are used on platinum jewelry as compared with gold jewelry, based on the amount of pure platinum in the piece. The quality markings for platinum are based on parts per thousand. For example, the marking 900 Platinum means that 900 out of 1000 are pure platinum, or in other words, the item is 90% platinum and 10% other metals. The abbreviations for platinum - Plat. or Pt. - also can be used in marking jewelry.

Items that contain at least 950 parts per thousand pure platinum can be marked simply platinum. Items that have at least 850 parts per thousand pure platinum can be marked with the amount of pure platinum and the word platinum or an abbreviation (for example, 950 platinum, 900 Plat. or 850 Pt.). Jewelry that contains less than 850 parts per thousand pure platinum, but has a total of 950 parts per thousand of platinum group metals (of which at least 500 parts is pure platinum), may be marked with both the amount of pure platinum and the amount of the other platinum group metals in the piece. For example, the marking 600 Plat. 350 Irid. means that the item has 600 parts per thousand (60%0 platinum, and 350 parts per thousand (35%) iridium, totaling 950 parts per thousand of platinum group metals, and 50 parts per thousand (5%) other metals.


Care and Cleaning of your Sterling Silver Jewelry

  • For daily cleaning it is recommended to use a simple jewelry polishing cloth that is impregnated with special jewelry cleaner. These are widely available and are very easy to use. Store your cloth in a plastic zip-lock bag, and keeping your jewelry drawer or armoire. It is a good idea to have one cleaning cloth for gold and one for silver.
  • For a slightly more "in-depth" cleaning you may want to use a liquid jewelry cleaner.
  • For cleaning badly tarnished silver, here's a neat little trick:
    1. Cover the inside bottom of a heatproof glass dish on bowl with a piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up.
    2. Place the tarnished silver in the bottom of the dish, contacting the aluminum foil.
    3. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda, and then slowly pour boiling water to cover the piece. The tarnish will gradually collect on the aluminum foil.
    4. Remove your silver, rinse thoroughly, and polish.

Here are Some Tips for Greater Enjoyment of your Sterling Silver Jewelry

  • Are your silver chains all tied-up in knots? If so, here's a nifty little trick for straightening them out... Dust your chain with a little talcum powder and then try to unknot it. If the knot is stubborn, place a small drop of baby oil on a sheet of wax paper. Lay the knot in the oil and work it out with two pins; then clean the chain as instructed below.
  • Always apply make-up, perfumes, oils or colognes before you put on your jewelry.

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Jewelry and Gemstone Care & Cleaning Tips

Diamond earrings, emerald rings, ruby bracelets, sapphire pendants; no doubt about it everybody loves beautiful gem stone jewelry. Gemstones are quite literally hard as rock, buy they can be damaged from careless handling and negligence. Here are some tips for keeping your gems and jewelry looking fabulous for years to come.

  1. Remember, even the hardest gemstone variety can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions that weaken the crystal structure. Exercise common sense: if you have a ring set with a softer gem variety or an included stone, take it off before strenuous exercise. Even the hardest gem of them all, diamond, can shatter in two with a single well-placed blow. Never remove rings by pulling on the stone: that habit may result in a loose, then lost, gem.
  2. Most importantly, store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don’t scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box.
  3. Rings in particular tend to collect dust and soap behind the gem, particularly if you wear them all the time. You need to clean them regularly to let the light in so your gems can shine. To clean transparent crystalline gemstones, simply soak them in water with a touch of gentle dish soap. Use a bowl of water rather than the sink to eliminate the risk of anything going down the drain. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone. Rinse the soap off and pat dry with a lint-free cloth (you want to make sure threads won’t catch on the prongs) For diamond, ruby or sapphire, a touch of ammonia in the rinse water won’t hurt a bit and can add extra sparkle (for platinum and gold only, not silver!). Think twice before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds and rubies and sapphires will be fine but many other gems many not be, in particular emerald, opal, pearls, peridot: when in doubt, leave it out.
  4. Organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber should only be wiped clean with moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can, over time, damage pearls in particular. Opals also require special care. Never use an ultrasonic, never use ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light.
  5. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite, require special care because they are rocks, not crystals of a single mineral like transparent gems. There gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, and they may build up inside the stone and discolor it. Never use and ultrasonic cleaner and never use ammonia or any chemical solution.

A little care and common sense can add life, luster and longevity to your precious jewelry and gems. Protect your investment by following the above guidelines.

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Body Jewelry and Today's Stars

Body jewelry and body piercing practices have been observed by various groups of people all over the world throughout the centuries. For some tribes it is a rite of passage, for others it is an indicator of social status. For many, body jewelry is used to enhance personal beauty and as devices to rise above the rest of the pack. Today’s celebrities have been at the forefront in making body jewelry much more mainstream and acceptable – even desirable.

“What’s a little pain if it’ll make me look hip” seems to be the prevalent thought among the young and the old who are turning out in increasing numbers to participate in the body jewelry trend. Not so long ago, only punk rockers and those with ‘bad boy’ images, such as former NBA star Dennis Rodman, were seen sporting body piercings in mainstream media. Today, body jewelry is endorsed by pop celebrities with mass followings, including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Fiona Apple and Lenny Kravitz. Britney Spears has an extensive collection of navel rings, and Christina Aguilera is said to wear the most interesting body jewelry in areas that are covered by her clothing.

Some celebrities with an otherwise ‘serious’ image are nevertheless fans of body art. Actress Camryn Manheim of the television drama ‘The Firm’ sports multiple earrings on the cartilage of one ear. Gillian Anderson, who played the cynical and skeptical FBI agent Dana Scully in the television series ‘The X Files,’ has a pierced belly button. Performers with tongue piercings include former Spice Girl Melanie Brown (Scary Spice) and dancer Jimmy Gulzar, while supermodels Christy Turlington and James King are proud of their piercings. Some sports celebrities also wear body jewelry, including WWE wrestlers A-Train and Billy Gunn, as well as football player Ricky Williams.

Body jewelry has also been used throughout the ages to enhance sensation, and by extension, sexuality and sexual performance. Genital and nipple piercing in both men and women, while not as widespread as nose, ear, tongue, navel and eyebrow piercing, still has its own following. Singer Janet Jackson has stated on the Oprah Winfrey talk show that she likes the sensation that her pierced nipples give her. Other celebrities with pierced nipples include rock musicians Axl Rose and Tommy Lee, Icelandic singer Bjork and rapper Lil Kim. Pop princess Britney Spears likewise has a pierced nipple.

Celebrities, whether they like it or not, are oftentimes looked up to as role models and the influence they wield over their fans is considerable. Fans emulate their idols’ preferences: from clothing, mannerism, even to the wearing of body jewelry. More and more, they are playing a leading role not only in the direction of today’s fashion trends but also in the shaping of modern pop culture.

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Fashionable Silver Earrings for Anytime and All the Time

It's been said that silver jewelry makes a person look youthful and energetic, while gold makes a person look sophisticated and mature. Hence, silver is a popular choice of the young for their adornments. It is also more practical, as it costs less than gold jewelry and is more widely available. There are more specialty shops that sell silver earrings, rings necklaces and bracelets, for example, than those that specialize in gold jewelry.

Silver jewelry has the impressive quality of being both affordable and stylish. Silver earrings are by no means "cheap" -- in fact, it is highly recommended as a complement to dark clothing, making for a very elegant and chic combination. Silver sets off dark colors and plays more on contrast, which makes for an extremely effective fashion statement. Silver jewelry and black attire is a favorite ensemble of artistes, as well as advocates of the popular "goth" movement.

All over the world, and throughout history, silver is thought of as a complement to gold. Silver as an element has been associated with the moon, while gold has been associated with the sun. The moon makes soft, mesmerizing silver ripples as it is reflected on a still lake. Its close relationship with moon imagery has made silver the color most commonly associated with dreams, fantasy and magic. Folklore has also endowed silver with special powers and healing properties.

Celebrities have also been known to patronize silver earrings. Oprah Winfrey and Sandra Bullock have sported chic chandelier-type silver pieces more than once. It is always interesting and a pleasure to behold the various styles and designs of celebrities’ silver jewelry, especially if it is worn in taste and in style.

A person who is building a collection of earrings should consider investing in a silver earring collection. In addition to being practical, the designs are immensely diverse and it doesn’t hurt to know that silver earrings are all the rage!

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Diamond Hoop Earrings: The Diva's Choice

"Men grow cold as girls grow old
And we all lose our charms in the end
But square-cut or pear-shaped
These rocks don't lose their shape
Diamonds are a girl's best friend"
-- from the movie "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"

Diamond hoop earrings are perfectly popular these days, thanks to young pop divas like Jennifer Lopez or J-Lo, hiphop diva extraordinaire. J-Lo is also known for spreading the trend of the chandelier earring, and other cascading-style ear ornaments.

Now take another diva and examine her choice of jewelry. We're talking about actress Elizabeth Taylor and her special fondness for diamonds. When she was dubbed a Dame of the British Empire, the nation held a "black tie and diamonds" event, to commemorate her love for that specific precious stone. Diamond hoop earrings are part of Miss Taylor’s not inconsiderable jewelry collection.

Take hoop earrings up another level and what do you get? Precious stones set into the hoops. What precious stone is considered the most popular, the most prestigious, and the most in-demand throughout the ages? Of course, it is the diamond.

Diamonds are formed over a period of a billion or more years deep within the Earth's crust - about 90 miles deep - and is pushed to the surface by volcanoes. Most diamonds are found in volcanic rock called kimberlite, or in the sea after having been carried away by rivers when they were pushed to the surface.

Hoops, for their part, come in a variety of thicknesses and sizes. Sometimes they are so fragile as to create cascading earring designs, and at other times they are so thick that you can set stones and other materials into them. Hoop earrings used to be a favorite jewelry style among ancient Central and South American tribes, at a time when gold flowed freely and primarily held only decorative value.

Combine the youthful appeal of hoop earrings and the distinguished status of the diamond and you'll have an entrancing diamond hoop earring. A small, thick hoop earring made of fine silver or gold may be studded with diamonds. Conversely, a hoop earring may also host even just one diamond, snugly fitted into its metal niche. Diamond hoop earrings are a unique design, pursued and appreciated for their earthly elegance.

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Diamond Stud Earrings: Elegant Unisexuality

A diamond stud earring is made up of just one perfectly cut diamond, set in fine gold or silver. The simplicity of the design itself is its own selling point: anything fancier and you could easily fall into the trap of over-accessorizing. A single-stone earring is singled out for its sophisticated look.

A diamond is 58 times harder than the next hardest mineral on earth, corundum, the stuff from which rubies and sapphires are formed. Only diamonds can cut other diamonds. Ironically, diamonds are also brittle. If you hit one hard with a hammer, it will shatter. If it is placed in an oven and heated to about 763 degrees Celsius (1405 degrees Fahrenheit), it will simply vanish, releasing only a little carbon dioxide and NO visible traces whatsoever.

Contrary to popular perception, diamond stud earrings are not just for women! There are quite a few male celebrities who have popularized the use of ear accessories -- Johnny Depp being among the more famous of them. Respected artists like Usher and Kanye West have taken to sporting diamond earrings. Morgan Freeman wore a diamond earring to a roundtable discussion of his movie "The Sum of All Fears" in Washington DC in May 2002.

If stud earrings ever looked elegant on a woman, ironically enough they fantastically boost the macho appeal of the men who wear them. The purity of the stone, the value of the stud, all speak highly of the man's discerning taste, his eye for refinement. After all, uncouth bad boy-types aren't the only virile types in the world -- the snazzy, clean-cut James Bond figure has also been universally identified as irresistibly macho.

The virtue of the diamond stud earring lies in its unisex appeal. Both men and women have the privilege of accessorizing, and a single diamond stud is sometimes more than enough to set off their own personal styles. A simple diamond stud earring is timeless, and appropriately goes with the saying “Fashion fades. Style is eternal.”

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Diamond Earrings: Superiority and Endurance

"A diamond is forever," as the old saying goes. The late actress Marilyn Monroe said it best: "a diamond is a girl's best friend." So much tribute has been paid to the everlasting glory of the diamond, which is among the most valuable (and expensive!) precious stones in existence. Is it any wonder then that diamond jewelry is so fashionable? Diamond earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets – many of these are regarded as works of art.

The diamond is the most unadulterated of all the gemstones composed of a single pure element. It is also the hardest transparent substance that exists. It is for this that the diamond stands as a symbol of strength, purity of spirit, and even physical chastity.

Diamond earrings first reached the height of fashion in Europe in the 18th century, just before the Renaissance era. To this day many people, even men, wear diamond earrings as a classy adornment. George Michael and Prince are only two of the many male celebrities who have been known to use diamonds as ear decorations. From time to time, David Beckham of soccer fame sports the odd diamond earring worth around $12,300.

Diamonds emphasize superiority and endurance. Unlike pearls they do not trap light, but reflect them -- projecting not just a glow, but a finely subtle ray of light upon the bearer's features. The light reflected by a diamond earring is often caught in the wearer's eye, hence you might notice a crafty sparkle in the eyes of women who wear finely-cut genuine diamond earrings.

Primarily, a diamond is graded by its 4 C’s: the cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. These characteristics are taken into consideration in the crafting of the finest diamond earrings. Take these factors into consideration when picking out diamond jewelry.

Diamond earrings make the best gifts for loved ones who have an eye for quality, and deserve only the best in life. These accessories speak of the wearer’s high-class taste and love for things of beauty.

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Gemstone Earring: One Small Way to Express Your Individuality

Some people have specific color preferences while some people also like only specific stones, and are energized by being around them. Gemstone earrings exist so that people may be able to select their jewelry based on their own preferences, and customize their accessories according to their desires.

Experts in psychic phenomena believe that each gemstone stands for something. Certain stones perform certain functions, or encourage a specific aspect of one's personality. For example, wearing garnet is said to help ease the pain of a bad breakup, or cause jealousy between lovers. Amethyst is said to protect its wearer against the ill effects of alcohol, slow down intoxication and prevent hangovers. Turquoise is said to give emotional strength. Jade has always had enormous importance in Asian civilization; it is said to have the mystical power to protect its wearer against nightmares and other psychic attacks.

Diamond -- currently the hardest mineral known to man -- is said to stand for strength and purity, which is why it is in demand in gemstone earrings among both men and women. Emeralds are said to stand for harmony, strength of heart, and luck with love. Emeralds themselves are rare, and the extremely rare red emerald is said to be even more valuable than diamonds. Sapphires stand for wisdom, calm and faith. Finally, rubies stand for passion, excitement, loyalty and sexual pleasure.

Gemstone earrings may also stand for birth months, as some precious and semi-precious stones are also birthstones. The different birthstones per month are listed thus:

  • January - Garnet

  • February - Amethyst

  • March - Aquamarine or Bloodstone

  • April - Diamond

  • May - Emerald

  • June - Pearl, Moonstone or Alexandrite

  • July - Ruby

  • August - Peridot or Sardonyx

  • September - Sapphire

  • October - Opal or Tourmaline

  • November - Topaz

  • December - Turquoise, Zircon or Blue Topaz

Different gemstone earrings may lend strength to different aspects of an individual’s personality. Whether or not a person believes in the mythical and supernatural characteristics and powers associated with these stones, wearing gemstone earrings nevertheless may feel like the wearer has on a tangible part of his or her personality that looks good, as well.

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Bridal Jewelry: Fulfilling a Wedding Tradition

‘Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ This is a saying that many brides take to heart when considering their wedding trousseau. From wedding gowns, accessories and motifs, brides from all walks of life throughout the years have tried their best to stick to this formula. It’s interesting to note that bridal jewelry can follow this adage, too.

‘Something old’ could most often be a piece of bridal jewelry that is a family heirloom. Sometimes the groom would give to his bride a ring or another piece of jewelry that had once been owned by his mother, grandmother, or past brides in his family. Maybe the bride would wear her own mother’s antique jewelry or some other gem that has been handed down to brides in the family from generation to generation. One thing is certain, wearing such bridal jewelry would reinforce a sense of family, tradition and continuity in a wedding ceremony.

‘Something new’ hardly needs any explanation. Thousands upon thousands of bridal jewelry stores, both the Internet e-commerce sites and bricks-and-mortar stores, offer a dazzling array of accessories to make the bride shine on her wedding day. The would-be bride can choose from among various jewelry pieces one or several items that she would wear at the ceremony and which she could treasure and keep as a memento of that most special day.

At first thought, ‘something borrowed’ doesn’t seem applicable to bridal jewelry. After all, a bride would most probably want to wear her own jewels and not have to borrow and then return them. But for women who want to add to the accessories that they will be wearing on their wedding day without having to spend thousands of dollars more to buy new ones, renting jewelry offers a practical solution. Many establishments rent out antique or estate bridal jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, and only the rental fee plus a refundable deposit need to be paid.

Finally, for that ‘something blue’ in a bridal jewelry ensemble, there are several gemstones that fit the bill. Depending on the shade of blue that she wants, a bride can opt for a necklace, bracelet, or earrings that are accented with sapphires, aquamarines or blue pearls. Hair ornaments or tiaras with other blue-tinted stones such as agate and topaz are also beautiful accessories for the bride.

The bride is the belle of the ball on her wedding day and it is important for her to look her best on that special occasion. Bridal jewelry, chosen tastefully and worn properly, will complement her wedding dress and make her look as radiant and as beautiful as any bride should be.


Vintage Costume Jewelry: Yesterday's Fashion Today

Jewelry, whether fine or costume, has been a part of human culture since the earliest times. People wear jewelry to satisfy their vanity, to indulge their love for beautiful things, and to look good to others. Vintage costume jewelry fulfills all these criteria, but at a fraction of the cost of real or fine jewelry. It is an inexpensive alternative that does not sacrifice taste as well as style.

Vintage costume jewelry may be less expensive, but good quality ones are never seen as cheap. They are less costly because they are not made from precious gems. Designers of vintage costume jewelry use a variety of materials from cut glass, beads, semi-precious gems, faux gems – even plastic! These pieces were created and released since the start of the Victorian era up to the 1960s. Vintage costume jewelry from the 1940s and 1950s are especially creative and eye-catching, since the designers of the era had to produce relatively inexpensive yet fashionable items that men and women could afford and appreciate during the war and post-war era.

Some of the most popular designers of vintage costume jewelry were fashion guru Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli and Miriam Haskell. Many of Schiaparelli’s bright and attractive creations were made from multi-colored rhinestones. Haskell, in her finely detailed work, almost always paid tribute to nature’s beauty and bounty. Chanel, the favorite of many celebrities, transformed the way costume jewelry was worn in the 1920s. Other pieces of vintage costume jewelry were made from materials that included beads, corals, faux pearls, and Bakelite – a kind of polymeric plastic.

Vintage costume jewelry continues to be very much in vogue today, and it has inspired many designers to create ‘real’ pieces made from precious gems and metals. At the 2005 Academy Awards, the jewelry that many women celebrities wore were oversized and sparkly, a tribute to the jewelry designs of the 1940s. Stars such as Madonna, Britney Spears, and Julia Roberts are not only collectors of vintage costume jewelry and dress accessories; they actually wear them in public, too.

A person does not have to be a celebrity to appreciate vintage costume jewelry. Their uniqueness, aesthetic value and superb craftsmanship make them popular collectible items, and with proper care, they can be a good investment, too, since serious collectors will pay top dollar for vintage costume jewelry that is in mint condition. But more than that, the experience of owning and wearing a thing of beauty that comes from a bygone era is simply priceless.


Jewelry Making for Fun and Profit

There is an old adage that says work isn’t really work if you enjoy what you’re doing. If one of your hobbies is jewelry making, why not turn this activity into a source of income? You’re already having fun anyway, and it wouldn’t take a whole lot more to share your jewelry creations with people who would appreciate them and be more than happy to pay for them. With a bit of extra effort, time management and discipline, jewelry making is a great way to have fun and make a bit of extra money on the side.

Whether you’re a novice about to enter the jewelry making field for the first time or whether you’ve been doing this for some time now, there are always several basic factors to consider. First, it’s important to have an adequate amount of space where you can work unbothered for a certain length of time each day and where you can store your jewelry making materials and tools. It doesn’t have to be a large space, just a corner or room where you can concentrate on bringing your ideas to life and be free from undue distractions.

Second, if you haven’t already, decide on the kind of jewelry you are going to make. If you’re just getting your feet wet in the jewelry making arena, start out with something simple. Think about what type of jewelry you’d enjoy and feel comfortable wearing and go on from there. Whatever materials you might need are readily available either on the Internet or in a physical retail store. Then, as you become more adept at what you’re doing, you can start exploring other, more complex jewelry making techniques. Remember, there is a plethora of information resources to help you make money from your hobby: books, specialty magazines, the Internet, and other jewelry makers.

After you’ve made a number of jewelry items, there are steps you can take to get other people interested in them. Be a walking advertisement for your jewelry making business. Wear some of your creations whenever you go out: wear them to work, when you go to the supermarket, or when you attend parties. Word of mouth is also a great way to let other people know about your jewelry making endeavor. Show some of your finished pieces to family and friends, and encourage them to spread the word.

The important thing to remember is that you continue to enjoy making jewelry and to take pride in your creations. Your love for jewelry making will be the key factor in maintaining your creativity level and it will help you come up with the designs that appreciative customers will buy. Never forget the ‘fun’ factor in jewelry making, as this will be reflected in your work, and the ‘profit’ factor will follow.


Lance Armstrong Bracelets: Fashion Accessories for a Worthy Cause

Lance Armstrong bracelets, the yellow rubber wrist bands inscribed with the motto LiveStrong, are tangible parts of champion American cyclist Lance Armstrong’s legacy. Diagnosed with testicular cancer on October 2, 1996, Armstrong battled with the disease and didn’t let it get in the way of his will to wear the yellow jersey once again to compete in the Tour de France cycling tournament. In partnership with sports apparel firm Nike, he started selling his Lance Armstrong bracelets for a dollar apiece, with the profits going to the Lance Armstrong Foundation to fund cancer research.

It is not so surprising to find that the Lance Armstrong bracelets have become a cultural phenomenon. Aside from being very affordable, people feel they are contributing to a worthy cause by buying and wearing the yellow bracelets. Add this to the fact that the wrist band is not difficult to wear as a fashion accessory. It goes along well with almost any attire: from your regular jeans-and-shirt attire to preppy to sports outfits. School children and teenagers think it is hip to be seen wearing one, and it doesn’t make a huge dent in their allowance to buy it. Professional athletes have been seen wearing them at sports events. Even corporate executives in power suits have taken to wearing these Lance Armstrong bracelets.

Made from rubber, it is similar to other cause-related bracelets that have emerged over the past years, such as those for breast cancer and diabetes. Many Americans collect these wrist bands, including the Lance Armstrong bracelets, because aside from being fashion-friendly and easy to wear, they have philanthropic and social significance.

Why yellow? This color is especially significant to Lance Armstrong. Aside from imparting feelings of warmth and optimism, yellow is the color of the jersey that the leading Tour de France cyclist is given to wear, and which he has worn to victory numerous times. The yellow Lance Armstrong bracelets are his standard bearers in his fight against cancer, and they bear witness to the things that have given his life new meaning.

Since ancient times, women and men have worn one form of jewelry or another as a way of expressing some sentiment, feeling or as a symbol. The Lance Armstrong 'Live Strong' bracelet is a modern version of an age old tradition; jewelry as a symbol of hope, courage and support of a worthy cause.

 

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